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"When you are reproached — bless ; when per- 
secuted — be patient; when calumniated — com- 
fort yourself; when slandered — rejoice; this is 
your road and mine." Words of St. Seraphine. 

Alexandra Feodorovna, from Tobolsk, 
March 20, 1918 

Yea, though I iialk through the valley of the 
shado'iv of death I shall not fear. Thy rod and 
Thy staff shall comfort me. 


The Empress of Russia in Her Happy Days . . Frontispiece 


The Empress Driving Her Pony Chaise 8 

The Empress with Grand Duchess Tatiana in Her 

Bedroom, Tsarskoe Selo 8 

Alexander Sergievitch Tanieff 9 

The Winter Palace, Petrograd 20 

Military Review, Tsarskoe Selo 21 

The Emperor and Empress in a Quiet Hour on Board 

the Imperial Yacht 32 

The Empress Distributing Presents to Sailors at the 

End of a Cruise 33 

LivADiA, THE New Palace of the Tsars in the Crimea 38 

A Corner of the Court of the Palace of Livadia . . 39 

The Imperial Children Bathing in the Black Sea at 

Livadia 39 

The Imperial Yacht Arrives at Livadia, the Crimea . 50 

The Tsar, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana and 

Mme. Viroubova at Homburg 51 

The Empress Giving Alexei a Lesson on the Terrace . 74 

Alexei Playing in the Snow at Tsarskoe Selo ... 74 

The Empress in Bed with Convalescent Tsarevitch . 75 

Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana on Board the 

"Stanert" 78 

The Tsarevitch with His Cousins, Children of Grand 

Duke Ernest of Hesse 79 

Nicholas II and the Tsarevitch on Board the Imperial 

Yacht "Standert" 80 




The Tsarevitch with His Sailor, Derevanko . . . 8i 

The Tsar, Tsarina, and Alexei in the Gardens at 
Tsarskoe Selo 8i 

The Emperor and Empress in Old Slavonic Dress, 
Jubilee of 1913 98 

The Invalid Empress on the Balcony at Peterhof . 99 

The Guest Room in Rasputine's House in Siberia . . 169 

The Three Children of Rasputine Before Their House 
in Siberia 169 

The Empress and Young Grand Duke Dmitri, After- 
w^ards One of Rasputine's Assassins 184 

Minister of Court Count Fredericks, the Empress and 
Tatiana Taking Tea in Finnish Woods .... 185 

Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasie, and Marie, 
Prisoners at Tsarskoe Selo, 191 7 266 

Anna Viroubova Shortly After Her Release from the 
Fortress of Peter and Paul 267 

Letters from Nicholas II to Anna Viroubova, from 
Tobolsk, 191 7 306 

Letters from Alexei, Tatiana, and Marie, Smuggled 
FROM Siberia in 191 7 307 

One of the Empress's Last Letters to Mme. Viroubova, 
Written in Old Slavonic, 191 8 320 

Smuggled Letter from the Empress on Birchbark after 
Paper Gave Out 321 

The Ex-Emperor and Alexei Feeding Turkeys in the 
Barnyard, Tobolsk, 1918 342 

The Last Photograph Taken of the Empress and Her 
Daughters, Olga and Tatiana, Shortly Before the 
Murder of the Imperial Family in Siberia . . 343 

Note: With verj' few exceptions all these photographs were 
taken by members of the Imperial Family and by Mme. Virou- 
bova, all of whom were experts with the camera. 





IT is with a prayerful heart and memories deep and 
reverent that I begin to write the story of my 
long and intimate friendship with Alexandra Feodo- 
rovna, wife of Nicholas II, Empress of Russia, and 
of the tragedy of the Revolution, which brought on 
her and hers such undeserved misery, and on our un- 
happy country such a black night of oblivion. 

But first I feel that I should explain briefly who I 
am, for though my name has appeared rather promi- 
nently in most of the published accounts of the Revo- 
lution, few of the writers have taken the trouble to 
sift facts from fiction even in the comparatively un- 
important matter of my genealogy. I have seen it 
stated that I was born in Germany, and that my mar- 
riage to a Russian officer was arranged to conceal my 
nationality. I have also read that I was a peasant 
woman brought from my native Siberia to further the 
ambitions of Rasputine. The truth is that I am un- 
able to produce an ancestor who was not born Rus- 
sian. My father, Alexander Sergievitch Tanieff, 
during most of his life, was a functionary of the Rus? 
sian Court, Secretary of State, and Director of the 
Private Chancellerie of the Emperor, an office held 



before him by his father and his grandfather. My 
mother was a daughter of General Tolstoy, aide-de- 
camp of Alexander 11. One of my immediate an- 
cestors was Field Marshal Koutousoff, famous in the 
Napoleonic Wars. Another, on my mother's side, was 
Count Kontaisoff, an intimate friend of the eccentric 
Tsar Paul, son of the great Catherine. 

Notwithstanding my family's hereditary connection 
with the Court our own family life was simple and 
quiet. My father, aside from his official duties, had 
no Interests apart from his home and his music, for 
he was a composer and a pianist of more than national 
fame. My earliest memories are of home evenings, 
my brother Serge and my sister Alya (Alexandra) 
studying their lessons under the shaded lamp, my dear 
mother sitting near with her needlework, and my 
father at the piano working out one of his composi- 
tions, striking the keys softly and noting down his har- 
monies. I thank God for that happy childhood which 
gave me strength of soul to bear the sorrows and suf- 
ferings of after years. 

Six months in every year we spent in the country 
near Moscow on an estate which had been in the family 
for nearly two hundred years. For neighbors we 
had the Princes Galatzine and the Grand Duke and 
Grand Duchess Serge, the last named being the older 
sister of the Empress. I hardly remember when I 
did not know and love the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, 
as she was familiarly called. As small children she 
petted and spoiled us all, often inviting us to tea, the 
feast ending in a grand frolic in which we were al- 
lowed to search the rooms for toys which she had 


ingeniously hidden. It was at one of these children's 
teas that I first saw the Empress Alexandra. Quite 
unexpectedly the Tsarina was announced and the 
beautiful Grand Duchess Elizabeth, leaving her small 
guests, ran eagerly to greet her. The time was near 
the beginning of the reign of Nicholas II and Alex- 
andra Feodorovna, and the Tsarina was at the very 
height of her youthful beauty. My childish impres- 
sion of her was of a tall, slender, graceful woman, 
lovely beyond description, with a wealth of golden 
hair and eyes like stars, the very picture of what an 
Empress should be. 

For my father the young Empress soon conceived a 
warm liking and confidence and she named him as 
vice president of the committee of Assistance par le 
Travail. During this time we lived in winter in the 
Michailovsky Palace in Petrograd, and in summer in 
a small villa in Peterhof on the Baltic Sea. From con- 
versations between my mother and father I learned a 
great deal of the life of the Imperial Family. The 
Empress impressed my father both by her excessive 
shyness and by her unusual intelligence. She was 
above all a motherly woman and often combined 
baby-tending with serious business affairs. With the 
little Grand Duchess Olga in her arms she discussed 
all kinds of business with my father, and while with 
one hand rocking the cradle where lay the baby Ta- 
tiana she signed letters and papers of consequence. 
Sometimes while thus engaged there would come a 
clear, musical whistle, like a bird call. It was the 
Emperor's special summons to his wife, and at the 
first sound her cheek would turn to rose, and, regard- 


less of everything, she would fly to answer it. That 
birdlike whistle of the Emperor I became very 
familiar with in later years, calling the children, sig- 
naling to me. It had a curious, appealing, resistless 
quality, peculiar to himself. 

Perhaps it was a common love of music which first 
drew the Empress and our family into a bond of 
friendship. All of us children received a thorough 
musical education. From childhood we were taken 
regularly to concerts and the opera, and our home, 
especially on Wednesday evenings, was a rendezvous 
for all the musicians and composers of the capital. 
The great Tschaikovsky was a friend of my father, 
and I remember many others of note who were fre- 
quent guests at tea or dinner. 

Apart from music we received an education rather 
more practical than was the average at that time. In 
the Russia of my childhood a girl of good family was 
supposed to acquire a few pretty accomplishments and 
nothing much besides. Accomplishments I and my 
sister were given, but besides music and painting, for 
which my sister had considerable talent, we were well 
grounded in academic studies, and we finished by tak- 
ing examinations leading to teachers' diplomas. I may 
say also that even in our drawing-room accomplish- 
ments we were obliged to be thorough, and when my 
father ventured to show some of our work to the 
Empress she expressed warm approval. "Most Rus- 
sian girls," she said, "seem to have nothing in their 
heads but officers." 

The Empress, coming from a small German Court 
where everyone at least tried to occupy themselves 


usefully, found the idle and listless atmosphere of 
Russia little to her taste. In her first enthusiasm of 
power she thought to change things a little for the 
better. One of her early projects was a society of 
handwork composed of ladies of the Court and society 
circles, each one of whom should make with her own 
hands three garments a year to be given to the poor. 
The society, I am sorry to say, did not long flourish. 
The idea was too foreign to the soil. Nevertheless 
the Empress persisted in creating throughout Russia 
industrial centers, maisons de travail, where the un- 
employed, both men and women, and especially un- 
fortunate women who, through errors of conduct, lost 
their positions, could find work. 

Life at Court was by no means serious. In fact 
it was at that time very gay. At seventeen I was pre- 
sented, first to the Empress Dowager who lived in a 
palace in Peterhof known as the Cottage. Extremely 
shy at first, I soon accustomed myself to the many 
brilliant Court functions to which my mother chap- 
eroned my sister and myself. We danced that first 
winter, I remember, at no less than twenty-two balls 
besides attending many receptions, teas, and dinners. 
Perhaps it was partly the fatigue of all this social dis- 
sipation which made so serious the illness with which 
in the ensuing summer I was stricken. Typhus, that 
scourge of Russia, struck down at the same time my 
brother Serge and myself. My brother's illness ran 
a normal course and he made a rapid recovery, but 
for three months I lay at death's door. After the 
fever succeeded many complications, inflammation of 
the lungs and kidneys, and an affection of the brain 


whereby I lost both speech and hearing. In the midst 
of my suffering I had a vivid dream in which the saintly 
Father John of Kronstadt appeared to me and told 
me to have courage and that all would finally be well. 

This Father John of Kronstadt, whom all true 
Russians reverence as a saint, I remembered as having 
thrice been at our house in my early childhood. The 
gentle majesty of his presence, the beauty of his benign 
countenance had so deeply impressed me that now, in 
my desperate illness, it seemed to me that he, more 
than the skilled physicians and the devoted sisters who 
attended me, had power of help and healing. In some 
way I managed to convey to my parents that I wanted 
Father John, and they immediately telegraphed beg- 
ging him to come. It was some days before the mes- 
sage reached him, as he was away from home on a 
mission, but as soon as he received word of our need 
he hastened to Peterhof. As in a vision I sensed 
his coming long before he reached the house, and 
when he came I greeted him without astonishment 
with a feeble movement of my hand. Father John 
knelt down beside my bed, praying quietly, a corner 
of his long stole laid over my burning head. At 
length he rose, took a glass of holy water, and to the 
consternation of the nurses sprinkled it freely over me 
and bade me sleep. Almost instantly I fell into a deep 
sleep, and when I awoke next day I was so much better 
that all could see that I was on the road to recovery. 

In September of that year I went with my mother 
first to Baden and afterwards to Naples. We lived in 
the same hotel with the Grand Duke and Grand 
Duchess Serge who were very much amused to see me 


in a wig, my long illness having rendered me tempo- 
rarily almost bald. After a quiet but happy season in 
southern Italy I returned to Russia quite restored to 
health. The winter of 1903 I remember as a round 
of gaieties and dissipations. In January of that year 
I received from the Empress the diamond-studded 
chiffre of maid of honor, which meant that, following 
my marriage, I would have permanent entry to all 
Court functions. Not immediately but very soon 
afterwards I was called to duty to the person of the 
Empress, and there began then that close and intimate 
friendship which I know lasted with her always and 
which will remain with me as long as God permits 
me to live. 

I would that I could paint a picture of the Empress 
Alexandra Feodorovna as I knew her before the first 
shadow of doom and disaster fell upon unhappy Rus- 
sia. No photograph ever did her justice because it 
could reproduce neither her lovely color nor her grace- 
ful movements. Tall she was, and delicately, beauti- 
fully shaped, with exquisitely white neck and shoulders. 
Her abundant hair, red gold, was so long that she 
could easily sit upon it when it was unbound. Her 
complexion was clear and as rosy as a little child's. 
The Empress had large eyes, deep gray and very lus- 
trous. It was only in later life that sorrow and 
anxiety gave her eyes the melancholy with which they 
are usually associated. In youth they wore an ex- 
pression of constant merriment which explained her 
family nickname of "Sunny," a name by the way 
nearly always used by the Emperor. I began almost 
from the first day of our association to love and ad- 


mire her, as I have loved her ever since and always 

The winter of 1903 was very brilliant, the season 
culminating in a famous ball in costumes of Tsar 
Alexis Michailovitch, who reigned in the seventeenth 
century. The ball was given first in the Hermitage, 
the great art gallery adjoining the Winter Palace, but 
so immense was its success that it had to be twice re- 
peated, once in the Salle de Concert of the palace and 
again in the large ballroom of the Schermetieff 
Palace. My sister and I were two of twenty young girls 
selected to dance with twenty youthful cavaliers in an 
ancient Russian dance which required almost as much 
rehearsal as a ballet. The rehearsals were quite im- 
portant society events, all the mothers attending, and 
the Empress often looking on as interested as any of us. 

That summer I again fell ill in our villa in Peterhof, 
and I remember particularly that this was the first 
time the Empress ever visited our house. She drove 
in a low pony chaise, coming up to my sickroom all 
in white with a big white hat and in the best of spirits. 
Needless to say, her unexpected visit did me a world 
of good, as did her second visit at our home in the 
country when she left me a gift of holy water from 
Saroff, a place greatly venerated by Russians. That 
winter with its artless pleasures, and the pleasant sum- 
mer which followed, marked the end of an era in 
Russia. Immediately afterwards came the catastro- 
phe of the Japanese War, so needlessly entered into. 
This war was the beginning of a long line of disasters 
which ended in the supreme disaster of 19 17. I must 
confess that at the time the Japanese War made no 

PETERHOF, 1909. 


Director of the Tsar's Private Chancellerie, Father of Anna Viroubova. 


very deep impression on young girls who, like myself, 
faced life lightly like happy children. We resigned 
ourselves to an almost complete cessation of balls and 
parties, and we put aside our pretty gowns for the 
sober dress of working sisters. The great salons of 
the Winter Palace were turned into workrooms and 
there every day society flocked to sew and knit for our 
soldiers and sailors fighting such incredible distances 
away, as well as for the wounded in hospitals at home 
and abroad. My mother, who was one of the heads of 
committees giving out work to be done at home, was 
constantly busy, and we obediently followed her 

Every day the Empress came to inspect the work, 
often sitting down at a table and sewing diligently 
with the others. This was shortly before the birth of 
the Tsarevitch and I have a clear picture in my mind 
of the Empress looking more than ever fine and deli- 
cate, her tall figure clad in a loose robe of dark vel- 
vet trimmed in fur. Behind her chair, bringing into 
splendid relief her bright gold hair, stood a huge 
negro servant, gorgeous in scarlet trousers, gold-em- 
broidered jacket, and white turban. This negro, Jim, 
was one of four Abyssinians who stood guard before* 
the doors of the private apartments. They were not 
soldiers and they had no functions except to open and 
close the doors, and to signify by a sudden, noiseless 
entrance into a state apartment that one of their 
Majesties was about to appear. The Abyssinians were 
in fact simply one of the left-overs from the days of 
Catherine the Great, in whose times dwarfs and 
negroes and other exotics figured as a part of Court 


ceremonials. They remained not because Nicholas II 
or the Empress wanted them, but because, as I shall 
later explain, it was practically impossible to change 
any detail of Russian Court life. 

The following summer the heir was born amid the 
wildest rejoicings all over the Empire. I remember 
the Empress telling me with what extraordinary ease 
the child was brought into the world. Scarcely half 
an hour after the Empress had left her boudoir for 
her bedroom the baby was born and it was known 
that, after many prayers, there was an heir to the 
throne of the Romanoffs. The Emperor, in spite of 
the desperate sorrow brought upon him by a disastrous 
war, was quite mad with joy. His happiness and the 
mother's, however, was of short duration, for almost 
at once they learned that the poor child was afflicted 
with a dread disease, rather rare except in royal 
families where it is only too common. The victims 
of this malady are known in medicine as hcemophiliacs, 
or bleeders. Frequently they die soon after birth, 
and those who survive are subject to frightful suffer- 
ing, if not to sudden death, from slight injuries to 
blood vessels, internal as well as external. The whole 
short life of the Tsarevitch, the loveliest and most 
amiable child imaginable, was a succession of agon- 
izing illnesses due to this congenital affliction. The 
sufferings of the child were more than equaled by those 
of his parents, especially of his mother, who hardly 
knew a day of real happiness after she realized her 
boy's fate. Her health and spirits began to decline, 
and she developed a chronic heart trouble. Although 
the boy's affliction was in no conceivable way her fault, 


she dwelt morbidly on the fact that the disease is 
transmitted through the mother and that it was com- 
mon in her family. One of her younger brothers suf- 
fered from it, also her uncle Leopold, Queen Victoria's 
youngest son, while all three sons of her sister, Prin- 
cess Henry of Prussia, were similarly afflicted. One 
of these boys died young and the other two were life- 
long invalids. 

Everything possible, everything known to medical 
science, was done for the child Alexei. The Empress 
nursed him herself, as indeed, with the assistance of 
professional women, she had nursed all her children. 
Three trained Russian nurses were in attendance, 
with the Empress always superintending. She 
bathed the babe herself, and was with him so much 
that the Court, ever censorious of her, complained that 
she was more of a nurse than an Empress. The 
Court, of course, did not immediately understand the 
serious condition of the infant heir. No parents, be 
their estate high or low, are ready all at once to reveal 
a misfortune such as that one. It is always human 
to hope that things are not as desperate as they seem, 
and that in time some remedy for the illness will be 
found. The Emperor and Empress guarded their 
secret from all except relatives and most intimate 
friends, closing their eyes and their ears to the growing 
unpopularity of the Empress. She was ill and she 
was suffering, but to the Court she appeared merely 
cold, haughty, and indifferent. From this false im- 
pression she never fully recovered even after the ex- 
planation of her suddenly acquired silence and melan- 
choly became generally known. 


IN one of the earliest days of 1905 my mother re- 
ceived a telegram from Princess Galatzine, first 
lady in waiting, saying that my immediate presence at 
Court was required. The Princess Orbeliani, also a 
lady in waiting, was seriously ill, and some one was 
needed to replace her in attendance on Her Majesty. 
I left at once for Tsarskoe Selo, then, as always, the 
favorite home of the Imperial Family, and on my ar- 
rival was conducted to the apartments in the palace 
known as the Lyceum. The rooms were small and 
dark with windows looking out on a little church. It 
was the first time I had ever been away from home, 
and in any surroundings I should have been homesick 
and forlorn, but in these unfriendly surroundings my 
spirits were with some excuse depressed. 

The time of my coming to Court was unpropitious, 
the Imperial Family and all connections being in deep 
mourning for the Grand Duke Serge who, on the morn- 
ing of February 4, had been barbarously assassinated. 
The Grand Duke Serge, uncle of Nicholas II, had been 
Governor of Moscow. He was undoubtedly a reac- 
tionary, and his rule was said to have been harsh. 
Certain it is that his administrative methods earned 
him the intense enmity of the Social Revolutionaries 
and he had long lived in danger of assassination. His 

wife, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, was devoted to 



him In spite of his somewhat difficult temperament, 
and she never willingly allowed him to leave the palace 
of the Kremlin unaccompanied. Usually she went 
with him herself, but on this fatal February morning 
he, being in a dark mood, left the palace without her 
knowledge. Suddenly a great explosion shook all 
the windows, and the poor Grand Duchess, spring- 
ing from her chair, cried out in an agonized voice: 
"It is Serge!" 

Rushing out Into the court she saw a horrible sight, 
the body of her husband scattered in a hundred bleed- 
ing fragments over the snow. The bomb had liter- 
ally torn the unfortunate man to pieces, so that in the 
dismembered mass of flesh and blood there was noth- 
ing recognizable of what had been, only a few minutes 
before, a strong and dominating man. 

The terrorist who threw the bomb was promptly 
arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. It was en- 
tirely characteristic of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth 
that In the midst of her grief and horror she still found 
room in her heart to pity the misguided wretch sitting 
in his cell waiting his miserable end. The Grand 
Duchess insisted on visiting the man In prison, assur- 
ing him of her forgiveness, and praying for him on 
the stone floor of his cell. Whether or not he joined 
In her prayers I do not know. The Social Revolution- 
aries prided themselves on being irreligious and very 
many of them were Jews. 

The Court weighed down by this terrible tragedy 
was a sad enough place for a homesick girl like my- 
self. Like all the other ladies in waiting I wore a 
black dress with a long veil, and when at length I was 


received by the Empress I found her, too, dressed In 
deep mourning. After this first formal reception I saw 
very little of the Empress, all her time being devoted 
to her sister, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, and to 
Princess Henry of Prussia, who was visiting her. The 
Empress Dowager also came, so that the suite was 
thrown together in what for me was not altogether a 
pleasant association. My special duty, as I discov- 
ered, was attendance on the old Princess Orbeliani, 
whose illness, I am bound to admit, did not sweeten 
her disposition. But as she was dying of that terribly 
trying malady, creeping paralysis, I am ashamed, even 
now, to criticize her. For the other dames d'honneur, 
however, I have no hesitation to say that they were 
not on their best behavior. Being entirely a stranger 
at Court and unacquainted with insincerities which 
afterwards I came to know only too well, I suffered 
keenly from the cutting remarks of my colleagues. 
My French, which I own I spoke rather badly, came in 
for a great deal of ridicule. On the whole it was 
rather an unhappy period in my young life. 

The one bright spot that I remember was a drive 
with the Empress to which I was summoned by tele- 
phone. It was a warm day in early spring and the 
snow around the tree roots along the road was thaw- 
ing in the pale sunlight. We drove in an open car- 
riage, a big Cossack, picturesquely uniformed, riding 
behind. It was my first public appearance with Roy- 
alty and I was a little confused as to how to behave in 
the presence of the low-bowing crowds that lined the 
way. The Empress, however, soon put me at my ease, 
chatting of simple things, talking of her children, espe- 


cially of the Infant heir, at that time about eight 
months old. Our drive was not very long because the 
Empress had to hurry back to superintend a dancing 
lesson of the young Grand Duchesses. I remember 
when I returned to the apartment of the invalid Prin- 
cess Orbeliani, she commented rather maliciously on 
the fact that I was not invited to attend the dancing 
lesson. But by that time, alas ! I knew that had I been 
invited her comment might have been more malicious 
still. Still I must not speak badly of the poor Prin- 
cess, for in spite of her illness and approaching death 
she was very brave and kinder than most people in 
her circumstances would have been. 

Lent came on and In the palace church there were 
held every Wednesday and Friday special services for 
the Imperial Family. I asked and was given permis- 
sion to assist In these services and I found great solace 
In them. At that time also I became warmly attached 
to a maid of honor of the Grand Duchess Serge, Prin- 
cess Scnkovsky, a woman of rare character. She had 
recently lost her mother and was In a sad mood. Al- 
most everyone, In fact, was sad at this time. The 
Grand Duchess Serge, although she bore her tragedy 
with dignity and courage, went about with a white face 
and eyes in which horror still lingered. On religious 
holidays she laid aside her black robes and appeared 
all in white like a madonna. 

The Princess Irene of Prussia (Princess Henry) 
was still in mourning for her little son who had died 
of the same incurable disease which afflicted the Tsare- 
vitch. She spoke to me with emotion of the child, to 
whom she had been deeply attached. 


My duty came to an end in Holy Week, and I went 
to the private apartments to make my farewell of the 
Empress, She received me in the nursery, the baby 
Tsarevitch in her arms, and I cannot forget how beau- 
tiful the child appeared or how healthy and normal. 
He had a wealth of golden hair, large blue eyes, and 
an expression of intelligence rare in so young a child. 
The Empress was kindness itself. At parting she 
kissed me, and gave me as a souvenir of my first serv- 
ice a locket set in diamonds. Yet for all her gracious 
kindness how gladly I left that night for my beloved 

The following summer, which as usual we spent at 
Peterhof, I saw much more of the Empress than in 
my month of attendance on her. With my mother 
and sister I again worked daily in the workrooms 
established for the wounded in the Japanese War, and 
there almost daily the Empress came to sew with the 
other women. Once every week she visited the hos- 
pitals at Tsarskoe Selo, and twice that summer, at her 
request, I accompanied her to her foundation hospital 
for training nurses. The Empress in the military hos- 
pitals was at her very best. Passing from bedside to 
bedside, speaking as tenderly as a mother to the sick 
and suffering men, sitting down to a game of checkers 
with convalescent officers, it was difficult to imagine 
how anyone could ever call her cold or shy. She 
was altogether charming and as she passed all eyes 
followed her with love and gratitude. To me she 
was everything that was good and kind, and into my 
heart there was born a great emotion of love and 
loyalty that made me determine that I would devote 


my whole life to the service of my Sovereigns. Soon 
after I was to know that they, too, desired that I 
should be intimately associated with their household. 
The first intimation came in the form of an invitation 
to spend two weeks on the Royal yacht which was 
about to leave for a cruise in Finnish waters. We left 
on the small yacht Alexandria, and at Kronstadt trans- 
ferred to the larger yacht Polar Star. We were a 
fairly large company on board, among others Prince 
Obolensky, Naval Minister, Admiral Birileff, Count 
Tolstoy, Admiral Chagin of the Emperor's staff, and 
Mademoiselle Schneider and myself in attendance on 
Her Majesty. A little to my embarrassment I was 
placed at table next the Emperor with whom I was 
not at all acquainted. It is true that I had often seen 
him at Tsarskoe and at Peterhof riding, or walking 
with his kennel of English collies, eleven magnificent 
animals in which he took great pride. But this time, 
on the Polar Star, was the first time I had been brought 
into personal contact with him. With the Empress 
I felt more at home, and this he knew, for he began 
almost at once to speak to me of her and of her great 
help to him in the pain and anxiety of the Japanese 
War. "Without her," he said with feeling, "I could 
never have endured the strain." 

The war was again recalled by a visit on board the 
yacht from Count Witte, fresh from the Portsmouth 
Conference. As a reward for his work done there he 
received for the first time his title by which the world 
now knows him. During dinner he related with great 
gusto all his experiences in the United States, his tri- 
umph over the Japanese delegates, his popularity with 


the Americans, appearing very happy and satisfied 
with himself. The Emperor complimented him 
warmly, but Count Witte for all his talents was never 
a favorite with the Sovereigns. 

Life on board the Polar Star was very informal, 
very lazy and agreeable. We sailed through the quiet 
waters of the Baltic, every day going ashore for 
walks, the Emperor and his staff sometimes shooting 
a little, but more often spending the time climbing 
rocks, hunting mushrooms and berries in the woods 
and meadows, and playing with the children to whom 
this country holiday was heavenly pleasure. Living 
long hours in the open air and indulging in so much 
vigorous exercise made me desperately sleepy so that 
I found myself drowsy at dinner and almost dead for 
sleep by the time the eleven o'clock tea hour came 
round. Everyone found my drowsiness a source of 
never-ending amusement, and once, after I had actu- 
ally fallen asleep at tea and had nearly pitched out of 
my chair, the Emperor presented me with a silver 
matchbox with which he said I might prop my eyes 
open, until bedtime. 

There was, of course, a piano in the salon of the 
yacht, and the Empress and I found a new bond in our 
common love of music. We spent hours playing four- 
hand pieces, all our dearly loved classics. Bach, Bee- 
thoven, Tschaikovsky, and others. In our quiet hours 
with our music, and especially before going to bed, the 
Empress and I had many intimate conversations. As 
if to relieve a heart too much constrained to silence 
and solitude the Empress confided in me freely the 
difficulties of her life. From the first day of her com- 


ing to the Russian Court she felt herself disliked, 
and this was all the more a grief and mortification 
to her because her marriage with the Emperor was 
a true love match, and she ardently desired that their 
union should increase in the Russian people the loy- 
alty and devotion they undoubtedly felt in those days 
for the House of Romanoff. 

All the stories of the reluctance of Alexandra 
Feodorovna to marry Nicholas II are absurdly un- 
true. As a small child she had been taken to Petro- 
grad to the marriage of her older sister Elizabeth and 
the Grand Duke Serge. With the Grand Duchess 
Xenia, sister of Nicholas, she formed a warm friend- 
ship, and with the young heir himself she was on the 
best of terms. One day he presented her with a pretty 
little brooch which from very shyness she accepted but 
afterwards repenting, she returned, squeezing the gift 
into his hand in the course of a children's party. The 
young Tsarevitch, much offended, or rather much 
hurt, passed the brooch on to his sister Xenia who, 
not knowing its history, cheerfully accepted it. 

The attraction so early established increased with 
years and ripened into romantic love, yet Alexandra 
Feodorovna hesitated to accept Nicholas as her be- 
trothed because of the change of religion which was 
necessary. Her home life at this time was not par- 
ticularly happy. Her mother. Princess Alice of Eng- 
land, had died in her childhood, and now her father, 
the reigning Grand Duke of Hesse, died suddenly of 
a stroke of paralysis. Her brother Ernest, who in- 
herited the title and who was of course her guardian, 
had made an unhappy marriage with Princess Victoria 


of Coburg, and the home life of the family was not 
particularly pleasant. Later this marriage was dis- 
solved, and in 1908 Grand Duke Ernest was happily 
united to Princess Eleanor of Sohmslich. It was at his 
first marriage that Alexandra Feodorovna again met 
the Tsarevitch, and from this time on he became a 
suitor. After their formal betrothal the young pair 
spent some happy weeks with Queen Victoria in Eng- 
land, where the match met with the approval of all 
the English relatives. 

Emperor Alexander III was at this time lying mor- 
tally ill in the Summer Palace Livadia, in the Crimea, 
and when his condition became hopeless Alexandra 
Feodorovna, as the future Tsarina, was summoned to 
join the Imperial Family at his bedside. The dying 
Tsar rose from his sickbed and, dressed in full uni- 
form, gave her the greeting due her dignity as a royal 
bride. From the rest of the family, unfortunately, she 
had a less cordial reception. The Empress and her 
ladies in waiting, Princess Oblensky and Countess 
Voronzoff, were distant and formal, and the rest of 
the Court, as might be expected, followed their ex- 
ample. The whole atmosphere of the palace seemed 
to the young girl unwholesome and unsympathetic. 
Upstairs lay the dying Emperor, while below the suite 
lunched and dined and followed ordinary pursuits very 
much as though nothing untoward was happening. To 
Alexandra Feodorovna, accustomed to the intimacy 
of a small and much less formal Court, this behavior 
seemed unfeeling and unkind. 

The end came suddenly one day when the Emperor, 
at the moment almost free from pain or weakness, 


was sitting in his armchair. The Empress Marie, 
quite overcome, fainted in the arms of Alexandra, who 
in that hour of extreme sorrow, prayed sincerely that 
she and her future mother-in-law might be drawn to- 
gether in bonds of affection. But this, alas! was never 
to be. 

The days that followed were gray and desolate 
for the young bride. The funeral procession of Alex- 
ander III wound slowly and solemnly from the Crimea 
to Petrograd, a journey of many days. The young 
Emperor, absorbed in his new duties, had little time 
to devote to the lonely, homesick girl, and indeed they 
hardly met before the morning of their marriage, a 
few days after the state funeral of the dead Emperor. 
The marriage took place in the church of the Winter 
Palace, and those who witnessed it have said that the 
bride, in her rich satin robes, looked very pale and 
unhappy. As she herself told me, the wedding seemed 
only a continuation of the long funeral ceremonies she 
had so lately attended. 

Thus came Alexandra Feodorovna to Russia, nor 
did the weeks that followed her arrival bring her any 
happiness. To her friend Countess Rantsau, lady in 
waiting to Princess Henry of Prussia, she wrote: 

I feel myself completely alone, and I am in despair that 
those who surround my husband are apparently false and in- 
sincere. Here nobody seems to do his duty for duty's sake, 
or for Russia, but only for his own selfish interests and for 
his own advancement. I weep and I worry all day long be- 
cause I feel that my husband is so young and so inexperienced. 
He does not at all realize how they are all profiting at the 
expense of the State. What will come of it in the end? I 


am alone most of the time. My husband is all day occupied 
and he spends his evenings with his mother. 

This was true, as Nicholas was very inexperienced 
and his mother's influence and, it must be said, her 
knowledge of afifairs were very potent. All during the 
first year the Emperor and the two Empresses lived 
together in the Annitchkoff Palace on the Nevski 
Prospekt. Alexandra Feodorovna comforted herself 
with the thought that summer would bring her a real 
honeymoon in the Crimea. Meanwhile she and her 
young husband went for an occasional sledge ride to- 
gether, about the only time granted them for confi- 
dences. Fortunately the first baby came soon and 
the second was soon expected. That autumn in 
the Crimea the Emperor was stricken with typhus and 
his wife insisted upon nursing him herself, hardly 
permitting his personal servant to assist her. Christ- 
mas was celebrated in his sickroom, his recovery hav- 
ing set in some weeks before. During these days of 
convalescence they went on solitary walks together, and 
the Emperor began to read with his wife, to confide in 
her with affection. When they went back to Petro- 
grad it was with every cloud dispelled, and the Em- 
press a radiantly happy wife. However, the somewhat 
cold and distant manner acquired in the first unhappy 
months of her stay in Russia remained with her. Rus- 
sia seemed to her an unfriendly land, and she was 
never able to present to it her really sunny and amiable 

Not all of these confidences did the Empress im- 
part to me on that first cruise I was privileged to 


share with her on the Polar Star. Little by little, then 
and later, I learned the story of her unhappy youth. 
But what she told me that summer seemed to relieve 
her mind, and she was more cheerful at the ending of 
the cruise than at the beginning. The commander 
of the yacht was good enough to tell me that I had 
broken down the wall of ice that seemed to surround 
Her Majesty, and that now she could be more easily 
approached. At the close of the voyage the Emperor 
said: "You are to go with us every year after this." 
But dearest of all in my memory were the words 
of the Empress at parting: "Dear Annia, God has 
sent me a friend in you." And so I remained ever 
afterwards, not a courtier, not long a lady in waiting, 
or even a maid of honor, or in any capacity an official 
member of the Court, but merely a devoted and an 
intimate friend of Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress 
of Russia. 


SHORTLY after our return to Peterhof I went 
abroad with my family, stopping first at Karls- 
ruhe, Baden, to visit my grandmother, and after- 
wards going on to Paris. The Empress had given me 
letters to her brother, the Grand Duke of Hesse, and 
to her eldest sister. Princess Victoria of Battenberg, 
both of whom I saw before leaving Germany. The 
seat of the Grand Duke of Hesse was Wolfsgarten 
near Darmstadt, a beautiful place surrounded by ex- 
tensive gardens laid out according to the Grand Duke's 
own plans. After my first luncheon at the palace, dur- 
ing which the Grand Duke asked me many questions 
about the Empress and her life at the Court of Rus- 
sia, I walked in the gardens with Mme. Grancy, hof- 
mistress of the Court of Hesse, a gracious and charm- 
ing woman. She showed me the toys and other 
pathetic relics of the little Princess Elizabeth, only 
child of the Grand Duke's first marriage, who had died 
in Russia after an acute illness of a few hours. I also 
saw the white marble monument which the people of 
Hesse had raised to the memory of the child. 

To the second luncheon I attended at the old Schloss 
came the Princess Victoria of Battenberg with her 
lovely daughter Louise. Etiquette at Hesse was of 
the severest order and I observed with some astonish- 
ment that the Princess Victoria curtsied deeply to her 



sister-in-law, Princess Eleanor, who though much 
younger than herself, was the wife of the reigning 
Grand Duke. The old Princess was a very clever 
woman and a brilliant conversationalist, although, to 
tell the truth, as she spoke very rapidly I lost a great 
deal of what she said. I remember her questioning me 
rather closely about the political situation in Russia, 
and although I was not very enlightening on the sub- 
ject she was good enough to invite me and my sister 
to lunch with her at Jugenheim in the neighborhood 
of Darmstadt. Both the brother and the sister of the 
Empress entrusted me with letters to her, and I took 
them with me to Paris, not knowing that it would be a 
long time before I should be able to deliver them. 

For in the midst of these pleasant days, all un- 
known to me, the tide of trouble and unrest was rising 
high in Russia. Beginning with a railroad strike in 
Finland, a succession of labor troubles and revolu- 
tionary demonstrations extending over a large terri- 
tory brought about a serious crisis which for a time 
tied up most of the railroads and prevented our re- 
turn to Russia. Of the cause of the trouble, and 
above all, of its ultimate consequences, I must say that 
I remained in complete ignorance. That the situation 
was grave of course I realized, and my heart went out 
to the Emperor on whom the responsibility of restor- 
ing order largely rested. But that this railroad strike, 
for that is all it seemed to amount to, was the begin- 
ning of a revolution never crossed my mind. I longed 
to get back to the Empress who I knew would be shar- 
ing the anxiety of the Emperor, but as a matter of 
fact I did not get back until after the manifesto of 


October, 1905, had been signed and delivered to a 
startled world. 

This October manifesto, relinquishing the prin- 
ciple of autocracy, creating for the first time a Duma 
of the Empire, was the result of many councils, some 
of them dramatic, not to say violent. Count Witte 
and Grand Duke Nicholas were determined that the 
Emperor should sign the manifesto, a thing which he 
was reluctant to do, not because he clung to his privi- 
leges as autocrat of all the Russias, though I know 
that this is the motive still attributed to him by almost 
all the world. The Tsar hesitated to create a house of 
popular representation because he knew how ill pre- 
pared the Russian people were for self-government. 
He knew the dense ignorance of the masses, the 
fanatical and ill-grounded socialism of the intelli- 
gentsia, the doctrinaire theories of the Constitutional 
Democrats. I can say with positive knowledge that 
Nicholas II fervently desired the progress of his coun- 
try towards a high civilization, but in 1905 he felt very 
serious doubts of the wisdom of radical changes in 
the Russian system of government. At last, however, 
overborne by his ministers, he signed the manifesto. 
It is said that the Grand Duke Nicholas, in one of the 
last councils, lost all control of himself and drawing 
a revolver threatened to shoot himself on the spot un- 
less the manifesto was signed. Whether this actually 
occurred or not I do not know, but from what was told 
me later by the Empress the scenes with the Grand 
Dukes and the ministers were painful in the extreme. 
When in one of the final councils the actual form of 
the national assembly was decided upon the Emperor, 


with a hand trembling with emotion, signed his name 
to the fateful document, all in the room rose and 
bowed to him in token of their continued fidelity. 

The Empress told me that while these trying 
scenes were in progress she sat in her boudoir alone 
save for her near relative the Grand Duchess Anas- 
tasie, both of whom felt that in the stormy council 
chamber a child was being dangerously brought into 
the world. Yet all the prayers of the Empress, as well 
as those of the Emperor, were that the new policy of 
popular representation would bring peace to troubled 

The Duma was elected, the Socialists alone of po- 
litical parties repudiating it as too "bourgeois." I 
was present with all the Empress's household, in the 
Throne Room of the Winter Palace on the opening 
day of the Duma when the Tsar welcomed the depu- 
ties, and I remember with what a strong, steady voice, 
and with what clear enunciation, the opening speech 
was read. Of the proceedings of the first Duma I 
have no very definite recollections, because they were 
marked with endless and very wordy discussions 
rather than with any attempt at constructive action. 
Ever}'one knows that the Duma was dissolved by Im- 
perial order after a short life of two months. 

Of these momentous political events which rocked 
Russia and were featured prominently in every news- 
paper in the world only faint echoes reached the inner 
circle of the Russian Court. This may sound in- 
credible to readers in republican countries where the 
press is entirely uncensored and where public opinion 
in educated in politics. In the Russia of 1906 the 


reading public was a comparatively small one and the 
press was poorly representative of the really intelli- 
gent people of the Empire. Few men and fewer 
women of my class attached any particular interest 
to the Duma, the best we hoped for it being that in 
time it would become an efficient working agency, like 
the parliaments of western European countries, 
adapted, of course, to Russian needs. The first 
Duma we thought of only as a rather foolish debat- 
ing society. 

The Empr&ss and I were engaged, at that time, 
with singing lessons, our teacher being Mme. Tret- 
skaia of the Conservatoire. The Empress was gifted 
with a lovely contralto voice, which, had she been 
born in other circumstances, might easily have given 
her a professional standing. My voice being a high 
soprano we sang many duets. Sometimes my sister 
joined us and as she also sang well we formed a trio 
singing many of the lovely arrangements for three 
voices by Schumann and others. Occasionally came 
also an English friend of the Empress, a talented 
violinist, and among us we arranged concerts which 
gave us the greatest pleasure, although we always had 
to hold them in another building of the palace called 
the Farm in order not to disturb the Emperor, who, 
for some strange reason, did not like to hear his wife 

When summer came and while the Duma was talk- 
ing out its brief existence we again took up our sea 
life, this time on board the large royal yacht the 
Standert. We cruised for two months, the Emperor 
frequently going ashore for tennis and other amuse- 


ments, but occupied two days of each week with 
papers and state documents brought to him by mes- 
senger from Petrograd. The Empress and I were 
almost constantly together walking on shore, or sit- 
ting on deck reading, or watching the joyful play of 
the children, each of whom had a sailor attendant to 
keep them from falling overboard or otherwise suf- 
fering mishap. The special attendant of the little 
Alexei was a big, good-natured sailor named Dere- 
vanko, a man seemingly devoted to the child. It was 
in fact Derevanko who taught Alexei to walk, and who 
during periods of great weakness following severe at- 
tacks of his malady carried the boy most tenderly in 
his arms. All of these sailors at the end of a cruise 
received watches and other valuable presents from the 
Emperor, yet most of them, even Derevanko, when 
the revolution came, turned on their Sovereigns with 
meanest treachery. 

On my days of regular service, Wednesdays and 
Fridays, for I was then a regularly appointed lady in 
waiting, I dined with the Imperial Family, and at that 
time I formed a close friendship with General Alex- 
ander Orloff, an old companion in the Royal Hussars 
with the Emperor. After dinner the Emperor and 
General Orloff usually played billiards, while the Em- 
press and I read or sewed under the warm lamplight. 
Those were happy evenings, full of bright talk and 
laughter, and I came to regard General Orloff as one 
of my best friends. Already the hateful hand of jeal- 
ousy and gossip had been directed against me by people 
who could not understand, or who, from motives of 
palace politics, deliberately misunderstood the Em- 


press's preference for my society. Practically every 
monarch has some close personal friend, absolutely dis- 
associated with politics and social intrigue, but I have 
noticed that these friendships are always misunder- 
stood and frequently bitterly resented. I used to take 
my small troubles to General Orloff, at least they seem 
small now after years of real trouble and affliction. 
But even after these bitter years of sorrow and af- 
fliction the kindly counsels of the good old general 
often come back to me, as they did then, like a friendly 
hand laid on my hot and resentful heart. 

I was then, in 1906, a fully grown and mature young 
woman and, as I could not help knowing, I was the 
subject of many conversations in the family circle be- 
cause of my indifference to marriage. I had, I sup- 
pose, the normal amount of attention from men, and 
the usual number of suitors, but none of the young 
officers and courtiers with whom I danced and chatted 
made any special appeal to my imagination. There 
was one young naval officer, Alexander Virouboff, who 
after December, 1906, came to our house almost every 
day, paying me the most marked attentions. One day 
at luncheon he spoke with pride of the very good serv- 
ice to which he had just been appointed, and very soon 
afterwards I found myself greeted on all sides as his 
affianced. In February there was a ball in which I 
was formally presented as a bride, and in the after 
whirl of dinners, presents, new gowns and jewels, I 
began to share the excitement, if not the happiness, of 
those around me. The Empress approved the match, 
my parents approved, and no one except my old 
friend General Orloff expressed even a faint doubt 


of the wisdom of the marriage. But on the day when 
he spoke to me frankly, advising me to think seriously 
before taking such a serious step, the Empress entered 
the room and said in a decided voice that I had given 
my word and that therefore I should not be given any 

I was married on the 30th of April, 1907, in the 
palace church at Tsarskoe Selo. The night before I 
slept ill and in the early morning I awoke in a mood 
of sadness and depression. The events of the day 
passed more like a dream than a reality. As in a 
dream I allowed myself to be dressed in my white satin 
wedding gown and floating veil, and still in a dream I 
knelt before their Majesties who blessed me, holding 
over my head a small ikon. Then began the marriage 
procession through the long corridors to the church. 
First walked Count Fredericks, master of ceremonies 
of the Court. Then came their Majesties, arm in 
arm, with my little boy cousin. Count Karloff, carrying 
a holy image. Then I, walking with my father. I 
must have shown by my excessive pallor the anxiety I 
felt, for on the stairs the Empress looked at me with 
concern and having caught my eye smiled brightly and 
glanced upward reassuringly at the bright sky. 

During the ceremony I stood quite still like a mani- 
kin, gazing at my bridegroom as at some stranger. I 
had one moment of faint amusement when the offici- 
ating priest, who was very near-sighted, mistook the 
best man for the bridegroom addressing us affection- 
ately as "my dear children." The Empress, as my 
matron of honor, stood at my left hand with the four 
young Grand Duchesses, and two others, the children 



of Grand Duke Paul. One of these was the Grand 
Duke Dmitri, who was destined to grow up to take 
part in the assassination of Rasputine. On the day 
of my marriage he was just a dear little boy, wide- 
eyed with the excitement of being one of a wedding 
party. After the ceremony there was tea with the 
Emperor and the Empress, and as usual when she and 
I parted there was an affectionate little note pressed 
into my hand. How like an angel she looked to me 
that day, and how hard it was for me to turn away 
from her and to go away with my husband. There 
was a family dinner that night in our home in Petro- 
grad, and afterwards we went away for a month into 
the country. 

It is a hard thing for a woman to tell of a mar- 
riage which from the first proved to be a complete mis- 
take, and I shall say only of my husband that he was 
the victim of family abnormalities which in more than 
one instance manifested themselves in madness. My 
husband's nervous system had suffered severely in the 
rigors of the Japanese War, and there were many 
occasions when he was not at all responsible for what 
he did. Often for days together he kept his bed re- 
fusing to speak to anyone. One night things became 
so threatening that I could not forbear telephoning 
my fears to the Empress, and she, to my joy, re- 
sponded by driving instantly to the house in her eve- 
ning gown and jewels. For an hour she stayed with 
me comforting me with promises that the situation 
should, in one way or another, be relieved. 

In August the Emperor and Empress invited us 
both to go for a cruise on the Standert, and sailing 

THE STANDERT. Photograph by Mine. Viroubova. 



through the blue Finnish fjords it did seem for a time 
that I should find peace. But one day a terrible thing 
happened, possibly an accident, but if so a very strange 
one, as we had on board an uncommonly able Finnish 
pilot. We were seated on deck at tea, the band play- 
ing, a perfectly calm sea running, when we felt a ter- 
rific shock which shook the yacht from stem to stern 
and sent the tea service crashing to the deck. In great 
alarm we sprang to our feet only to feel the yacht list- 
ing sharply to larboard. In an instant the decks were 
alive with sailors obeying the harsh commands of the 
captain, and helping the suite to look to the safety of 
the women and childen. The fleet of torpedo boats 
which always surrounded the yacht made speed to the 
rescue and within a few minutes the children and their 
nurses and attendants were taken off. Not knowing 
the exact degree of the disaster, the Empress and I 
hastened to the cabins where we hurriedly tied up in 
sheets all the valuables we could collect. We were the 
last to leave the poor Standert, which by that time was 
stationary on the rocks. 

We spent the night on a small vessel, the Asia, the 
Empress taking Alexei with her in one cabin and the 
Emperor occupying a small cabin on deck. The little 
Grand Duchesses were crowded in a cabin by them- 
selves, their nurses and attendants finding beds where 
they could. The ship was far from clean and I re- 
member the Emperor, rather disheveled himself, bring- 
ing basins of water to the Empress and me in which 
to wash our faces and hands. We had some kind of 
a dinner about midnight and none of us passed an 
especially restful night. The next day came the yacht 


Alexandria on which we spent the next two weeks. A 
fortnight was required to get the ill-fated Standert off 
the rocks on which she had so mysteriously been 
driven. From the Alexandria and later to the Polar 
Star^ to which we had been transferred, we watched 
the unhappy yacht being carefully removed from her 
captivity. We had not been very comfortable on the 
Alexandria because there was not nearly enough cabin 
room for our rather numerous company. The Em- 
press occupied a cabin, the Tsarevitch and his sailor 
another one adjoining. The four little Grand 
Duchesses did as well as they could in one small cabin, 
while the Emperor slept on a couch in the main salon. 
As for me, I slept in a bathroom. Most of the suite 
found quarters on a Finnish ship which stood by. 

After our return to Peterhof my husband became 
worse rather than better and his physician advised him 
to spend some time in a sanatorium for nervous pa- 
tients in Switzerland. He left, but on coming back to 
Russia was noticeably in worse condition than before. 
In the hope that active service would be of benefit to 
his shattered nerves and disordered brain he was or- 
dered to sea, but even this expedient proved of little 
benefit. After a year of intense suffering and hu- 
miliation my unhappy marriage, with the full approval 
of their Majesties and of my parents, was dissolved. 

I kept my little house in Tsarskoe Selo, its modest 
furnishings beautified by many gifts from the Empress. 
Among these gifts were some charming pictures and 
six exquisitely embroidered antique chairs. A silver- 
laden tea table helped to make the salon cozy, and I 
have many happy memories of intimate teas to which 


the Empress sent fruit and the Emperor the cherry 
brandy which he especially affected. 

The little house, however, was far from being the 
luxurious palace in which I have often been pictured 
as living. As a matter of fact, it was frightfully cold 
in winter because the house had no stone foundation 
but rested on the frozen earth. Sometimes when the 
Emperor and Empress came to tea we sat with our 
feet on the sofa to keep warm. Once the Emperor 
jokingly told me that after a visit to my house he 
kept himself from freezing only by going directly to 
a hot bath. 

The summer of 1908 the Emperor and Empress 
paid an official visit to England, but on their return 
they sent for me and again I spent a happy holiday on 
the yacht. Not altogether happy, however, for 
towards the end of the cruise my poor friend General 
Orloff, then near his death from tuberculosis, came 
to say good-bye to his Sovereigns. Correct in his uni- 
form and all his orders the fine old soldier bade us all 
a brave farewell before leaving for Egypt, where he 
well knew that his end awaited him. Peace to his 
honored ashes. He lies buried at Tsarskoe Selo, 
where the Emperor and Empress often visited his 
grave. Poor Orloff, he too suffered from the malicious 
gossip of the Court where his honest admiration of 
the Empress was deliberately misinterpreted and as- 
soiled. I can bear witness, and I do, that his greatest 
devotion was to the Emperor, his old comrade in arms, 
the friend of his youthful days. 


IN the autumn of 1909 I went for the first time to 
Livadia, the country estate of the Imperial Family 
in the Crimea. This part of Russia, dearer to all of the 
Tsars than any other, is a small peninsula, almost an 
island, surrounded on the west and south by the Black 
Sea and on the east by the Sea of Asov. A range of 
high hills protects it from the cold winds of the north 
and gives it a climate so mild and bland as to be almost 
sub-tropical. The Imperial estate, which occupies 
nearly half the peninsula, has always been left as far 
as possible In its natural condition of unbroken forests, 
wild mountains, and valleys. There was at the time of 
which I write but one short railroad in the whole of the 
Crimea, a short line running from Sevastopol, the prin- 
cipal port of the Black Sea, northward to Moscow. 
All other journeys had to be taken by carriage, motor 
cars, or on horseback. 

The natural beauties of the Crimea would be dif- 
ficult to exaggerate. The mountains, dark with pines, 
snow-covered during most of the year, make an Im- 
posing background for the profusion of flowering 
trees, shrubs and vines, making the valleys and plains 
one continuous garden. The vineyards of the Crimea 
are, or were previous to the Revolution, equal to any 
in Italy or southern France. What they became after- 
wards God knows. But certainly up to the summer of 



19 14, when I saw them last, the vine-clad hills and 
valleys of the Crimea were an earthly Paradise, as 
lovely and as peaceful as the mind can picture. From 
the grapes of the Crimea were distilled the best wines 
in Russia, among others an excellent champagne and 
a delicious sweet wine of the muscat variety. 

Almost every kind of fruit flourished in the valleys, 
and in spring the wealth of blossoms, pink and white, 
of apples, cherries, peaches, almonds, made the whole 
countryside a perfumed garden, while in autumn the 
masses of golden fruit were a wonder to behold. 
Flowers bloomed as though they were the very soul of 
the fair earth. Never have I seen such roses. They 
spread over every building in great vines as strong 
as iv>% and they scattered their rich petals over lawns 
and pathways in fragrance at times almost overpower- 
ing. There was another flower, the glycinia, which 
grew on trailing vines in grapelike clusters, deep 
mauve in hue, the favorite color of the Empress. This 
flower, too, was intensely fragrant, as were the violets 
which in spring literally carpeted the plains. Imagine 
these valleys and plains, with their vineyards and or- 
chards, their tall cypress trees and trailing roses, slop- 
ing down to a sea as blue as the sky and as gentle as a 
summer day, and yon have a picture, imperfectly as 
I have painted it, of the country retreat of the Roman- 
offs. Here of all places in Russia they were loved 
and revered. The natives of the peninsula were Tar- 
tars, the men very tall and strong and the women 
almost invariably handsome. They were Moham- 
medans, and it was only within late years that the 
women had discarded their veils. Both men and 


women wore very picturesque dress, the men wearing 
round black fur caps and short embroidered coats over 
tight white trousers. It was the fashion for the women 
to dye their hair a bright red, over which they wore 
small caps and floating veils and adorning themselves 
with a wealth of silver bangles. These Tartars were 
an honest folk, absolutely loyal to the Tsar. They 
were wonderful horsemen, comparing favorably with 
the best of the Cossacks, and their horses, through 
long breeding and training, were natural pacers. To 
see a cavalcade of Tartars sweep by was to imagine a 
race of Centaurs come back to earth, so absolutely 
one was every horse and man. 

The palace, as I saw it in 1909, was a large, old 
wooden structure surrounded by balconies, the rooms 
dark, damp, and unattractive. The only really sunny 
and cheerful room in the whole house was the dining 
room, where twice a day the suite met for luncheon 
and dinner. The Emperor usually presided at these 
meals, but the Empress being in bad health lunched 
privately with the Tsarevitch. The Empress had been 
for some time a victim of the most alarming heart 
attacks which she bravely concealed, not wishing the 
public to know her condition. Oftentimes when I 
remarked the blue whiteness of her hands, her quick, 
gasping breaths, she silenced me with a peremptory 
"Don't say anything. People need not know." How- 
ever, I was intensely relieved when at last she con- 
sented to have the daily attention of a special physician, 
this being the devoted Dr. Botkine, who accompanied 
the family in their Siberian exile, and shared their 
fate, whatever that fate may have been. Dr. Botkine, 


although a very able physician, was not a man of great 
social prominence, and when, at the Empress's request, 
I went to apprise him of his appointment as special 
medical adviser to their Majesties, he received the 
news with astonishment almost amounting to dismay. 
He began his administration by greatly curtailing the 
activities of the Empress, keeping her quietly in bed 
for long periods, and insisting on the use of a rolling 
chair in the gardens, and a pony chaise for longer 
jaunts abroad. 

Life at Livadia in 1909 and in after years was simple 
and informal. We walked, rode, bathed in the sea, 
and generally led a healthful country life, such as the 
Tsar, eminently an outdoor man and a lover of nature, 
enjoyed to the utmost. We roamed the woods gather- 
ing wild berries and mushrooms which we ate at our 
al fresco teas, cooking the mushrooms over little camp- 
fires of twigs and dried leaves. The Emperor and 
his suite hunted a little, rode much, and played very 
good tennis. In this latter sport I was often the Em- 
peror's partner and a very serious affair I had to make 
of each game. No conversation was allowed, and we 
played with all the gravity and intensity of profes- 

We had each year many visitors. In 1909 came 
sometimes to lunch the Emir of Bokhara, a big, hand- 
some Oriental in a long black coat and a white turban 
glittering with diamonds and rubies. He seemed in- 
tensely interested in the comparative simplicity of Rus- 
sian royal customs, and when he departed for his own 
land he distributed presents in true Arabian Nights' 
profusion, costly diamonds and rubies to their 


Majesties, and to the suite orders and decorations set 
with jewels. Nevertheless the souvenir of the Emir's 
visit to Livadia which I most prized was a photograph 
of himself for which he obligingly posed in the gar- 
dens. This photograph and hundreds of others which 
I took during the twelve years I spent with the Im- 
perial Family I was obliged to leave behind me when 
I fled, a hunted refugee, across the Russian frontier. 
I have no hope of ever seeing any of them again. ^ 

The 20th of October, the anniversary of the 
death of Alexander III, was always remembered by 
a solemn religious service held in the room where he 
died, the armchair in which he breathed his last being 
draped in heavy black. This deatli chamber was not 
in the main palace but in a smaller house adjoining, 
one which in 1909 was used as a lodging for the suite. 
The last part of our stay in the Crimea that year was 
not very gay. The Emperor left us for an official visit 
to the King of Italy, and on the day of his departure 
the Empress, greatly depressed, shut herself up in 
her own room refusing to see anyone, even the children. 
It was always to her an intolerable burden that she and 
the Emperor were obliged by etiquette to part from 
each other in public and to meet again after each ab- 
sence in full view of the suite and often of the staring 

This autumn was made sad also by one of the 
all too frequent illnesses of the unfortunate little 
Tsarevitch. The sufferings of the child on these oc- 
casions were so acute that everyone in the palace was 

* Happily many of these photographs were later recovered and 
appear among illustrations of this volume. 


rendered perfectly miserable. Nothing much could be 
done to assuage the poor boy's agony, and nothing ex- 
cept the constant love and devotion of the Empress 
gave him the slightest relief. We who could do noth- 
ing else for him took refuge in prayer and supplica- 
tion in the little church near the palace. Mile. 
Tutcheva, maid of honor to the young Grand 
Duchesses, read the psalms, while the Empress, the 
older girls, Olga and Tatiana, two of the Tsar's aides, 
and myself assisted in the singing. In the midst of 
our anxiety and distress during this illness of Alexei 
my father paid us a brief visit, bringing important re- 
ports to the Emperor, and this was at least a momen- 
tary bright hour in the sorrow of my existence. At 
Christmas time the Court returned to Tsarskoe Selo, 
both the Empress and the Tsarevitch by this time much 
improved in health. 

The next time I went with their Majesties to the 
Crimea we found the estate transformed and greatly 
beautified by the substitution of a palace of white 
marble for the ancient and gloomy wooden buildings. 
The new palace was the work of the eminent architect, 
Krasnoff, who had also designed the palaces of the 
Grand Dukes Nicholas and George. In the two years 
Krasnoff had indeed worked marvels, not only in the 
palace, which was a gem of Italian Renaissance archi- 
tecture, but in many smaller buildings, the whole con- 
stituting a town in itself, harmonious in material and 

I shall never forget the day we landed in Yalta, and 
the glorious drive through the bright spring sunshine 
to the palace. Before the carriage rode an old Tartar 


of the Crimea, one of the tribe I described earlier in 
this chapter. To ride before the Tsar's carriage was 
an ancient prerogative of these honest and loyal people, 
a prerogative which had to be resigned when carriages 
gave way to motor cars. No Tartar horse could have 
kept pace with, much less have preceded, a motor car 
of Nicholas II, for he always insisted on driving at a 
terrifying speed. But as late as 191 1 he kept up the 
old custom of driving from Yalta to Livadia. 

We drove, as I say, through the dazzling sunshine 
and under the fresh green trees of springtime until the 
white palace, set in gardens of blooming flowers and 
vines, burst on our delighted eyes. Russian fashion we 
proceeded first to the church, from whence in proces- 
sion we followed the priests to the anointing and bless- 
ing of the new dwelling. The first day I spent with the 
Empress superintending the hanging of pictures and 
ikons, placing familiar and homely objects, photo- 
graphs and souvenirs, so necessary to make a dwell- 
ing place out of an empty house, even though it be 
a royal palace. On the second floor were the private 
apartments of the family, including a small salon. The 
apartments of the Empress were furnished in light 
wood and pink chintzes and many vases and jars always 
kept full of the pink and mauve flowers she loved. 
From the windows of her boudoir one looked out on 
the wooded hills, and from the bedroom there was an 
enchanting view of the sparkling sea. To the right 
of the Empress's boudoir was the Emperor's study, 
furnished in green leather with a large writing table 
in the center of the room. On this floor also was the 
family dining room, the bedrooms of the Tsarevitch 


and of the Grand Duchesses and their attendants, a 
large day room for the use of the children, and a big 
white hall or ballroom, seldom used. 

Below were the rooms of state, drawing rooms and 
dining rooms, all in white, the doors and windows 
opening on a marble courtyard draped with roses and 
vines which almost covered an antique Italian well in 
the center of the court. Here the Emperor loved to 
walk and smoke after luncheon, chatting with his 
guests or with members of the household. The whole 
palace, including the rooms of state, were lightly, 
beautifully furnished in white wood and flowered 
chintzes, giving the effect of a hospitable summer 
home rather than a palace. 

That autumn was marked by a season of unusual 
gaiety in honor of the coming of age, at sixteen, of 
the Grand Duchess Olga, who received for the oc- 
casion a beautiful diamond ring and a necklace of 
diamonds and pearls. This gift of a necklace to the 
daughter of a Tsar when she became of age was 
traditional, but the expense of it to Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna, the mother of four daughters, was a matter 
of apprehension. Powerless to change the custom, 
even had she wished to do so, she tried to ease the bur- 
den on the treasury by a gradual accumulation of the 
jewels. By her request the necklaces, instead of being 
purchased outright when the young Grand Duchesses 
reached the age of sixteen, were collected stone by stone 
on their birthdays and name days. Thus at the coming- 
out ball of the Grand Duchess Olga she wore a necklace 
of thirty-two superb jewels which had been accumu- 
lating for her from her babyhood. 


It was a very charming ball that marked the intro- 
duction to society of the oldest daughter of the Tsar. 
Flushed and fair in her first long gown, something pink 
and filmy and of course very smart, Olga was as ex- 
cited over her debut as any other young girl. Her hair, 
blonde and abundant, was worn for the first time coiled 
up young-lady fashion, and she bore herself as the 
central figure of the festivities with a modesty and a 
dignity which greatly pleased her parents. We danced 
in the great state dining room on the first floor, the 
glass doors to the courtyard thrown open, the music 
of the unseen orchestra floating in from the rose gar- 
den like a breath of its own wondrous fragrance. It 
was a perfect night, clear and warm, and the gowns 
and jewels of the women and the brilliant uniforms of 
the men made a striking spectacle under the blaze of 
the electric lights. The ball ended in a cotillion and 
a sumptuous supper served on small tables in the 

This was a beginning of a series of festivities which 
the Grand Duchess Olga and a little later on her sister 
Tatlana enjoyed to their utmost, for they were not in 
the least like the conventional idea of princesses, but 
simple, happy, normal young girls, loving dancing and 
parties and all the frivolities which make youth bright 
and memorable. Besides the dances given at LIvadia 
that year, large functions attended by practically every- 
one in the neighborhood who had Court entree, there 
were a number of very brilliant balls given in honor 
of Olga and Tatlana after the family returned to 
Tsarskoe Selo. Two of these were given by the Grand 
Dukes Peter and George and the girls enjoyed them 


so much that they begged for another before Christ- 
mas. This time it was Grand Duke Nicholas who pro- 
vided a most regal entertainment, preceded by a dinner 
for the suite, to which I was invited. I went because 
the Empress wished it, but I went rather unwillingly 
knowing that the atmosphere was not a friendly one. 
Their Majesties were at that time particularly friendly 
with Grand Duke George and his wife who was 
Princess Marie of Greece, as formerly they had been 
with Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas and their wives, 
the Montenegran princesses, Melitza and Stana, of 
whom more must be written later on. 

In relating the events of the coming of age of Olga 
and Tatiana I must not forget to mention affairs of 
almost equal consequence which occurred in the Crimea 
in that season of 191 1. The climate of the Crimea 
was ideal for tuberculosis patients, and from her 
earliest married life the Empress had taken the deepest 
interest in the many hospitals and sanatoria which 
nestled among the hills, some of them almost within 
the confines of the Imperial estate. Before the be- 
ginning of the reign of Nicholas II and Alexandra 
Feodorovna these hospitals existed in numbers but 
they were not of the best modern type. Not satisfied 
with these institutions the Empress out of her own 
private fortune built and equipped new and improved 
hospitals, and one of the first duties laid on me when 
I first visited the Crimea was to spend hours at a time 
visiting, inspecting and reporting on the condition of 
buildings, nursing and care of patients. I was partic- 
ularly charged with discovering patients who were too 
poor to pay for the best food and nursing, and one of 


each summer's activities wlien the family visited the 
Crimea was a bazaar or other entertainment for the 
benefit of these needy ones. Four great bazaars organ- 
ized and largely managed by the Empress I particularly 
remember. The first of these was held in 191 1 and 
the others in 1912, 1913, and 1914. For all of these 
bazaars the Empress and her ladies worked very hard 
and from the opening day the Empress, however pre- 
carious the condition of her health, always presided at 
her own table, disposing of fine needlework, em- 
broidery, and art objects with energy and enthusiasm. 
The crowds around her booth were enormous, the 
people pressing forward almost frenziedly to touch her 
hand, her sleeve, her dress, enchanted to receive their 
purchases from the hand of the Empress they adored, 
for she was adored by the real Russian people, what- 
ever the intriguing Court and the jealous political 
rivals of her husband thought of her. Often the crowd 
at these bazaars would beg for a sight of Alexei, and 
smiling with pleasure the Empress would lift him to 
the table where the child would bow shyly but sweetly, 
stretching out his hands in friendly greeting to the 
worshipping crowds. Indeed the people loved all the 
Imperial Family then, whatever changes were made in 
the minds of the many by the horrible sufferings of the 
War, by propaganda, and by the mania of the Revolu- 
tion. The great mass of the Russian people loved and 
were loyal to their Sovereigns. No one who knew 
them at all can ever forget that. 

Perhaps they were more universally loved in the 
Crimea than elsewhere because of the simplicity of 
their lives and the close touch they were able to keep 


with the people of the country. We went to Livadia 
again in 1912, in 1913, and last of all in the spring and 
summer of 19 14. We arrived in 19 12 in the last week 
of Lent, I think the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Al- 
ready the fruit trees were in full bloom and the air 
was warm with spring. Twice a day we attended 
service in the church, and on Thursday of Holy Week, 
a very solemn day in the orthodox Russian calendar, 
their Majesties took communion, previously turning 
from the altar to the congregation and bowing on all 
sides. After this they approached the holy images 
and kissed them. The Empress in her white gown and 
cap looked beautiful if somewhat thin and frail, and 
it was very sweet to see the little Alexei helping his 
mother from her knees after each deep reverence. On 
Easter eve there was a procession with candles all 
through the courts of the palace and on Easter Sunday 
for two hours the soldiers, according to old custom, 
gathered to exchange Easter kisses with the Emperor 
and to receive each an Easter egg. Children from the 
schools came to salute in like manner the Empress. 
For their Majesties it was a long and fatiguing cere- 
mony, but they carried it through with all graciousness, 
while the Imperial household looked on. 

Such was the intimate, the patriarchal relation be- 
tween the Tsar and his people, and such was the real 
soul of Russia before the Revolution. I have often 
read, in books written by Western authors, that the 
Tsar and all the Imperial Family lived in hourly terror 
of assassination, that they knew themselves hated by 
their people and were righteously afraid of them. 
Nothing could possibly be farther from the truth. 


Certainly neither Nicholas II nor Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna feared their people. The constant police 
supervision under which they lived annoyed them un- 
speakably, and never were they happier than when 
practically unattended they moved freely among the 
Russian people they loved. In connection with the 
Empress's care for the tuberculosis patients in the 
Crimea there was one day every summer known as 
White Flower Day, and on that day every member of 
society, unless she had a very good excuse, went out 
into the towns and sold white flowers for the benefit 
of the hospitals. It was a day especially delightful to 
the Empress and, as they grew old enough to partici- 
pate In such duties, to all the young Grand Duchesses. 
The Empress and her daughters worked very hard on 
White Flower Day, spending practically the whole 
day driving and walking, mingling with the crowd and 
vending their flowers as enthusiastically as though 
their fortunes depended on selling them all. Of course 
they always did sell them all. The crowds surged 
around them eager and proud to buy a flower from 
their full baskets. But the buyers were no whit happier 
than the sellers, that I can say with assurance. 

Of course life in the Crimea was not all simplicity 
and informality. There were a great many visitors, 
most of them of rank too exalted to be treated with 
informality. I remember in particular visits of Grand 
Duke Ernest of Hesse, brother of the Empress, and 
his wife, Princess Eleanor. I remember also visits 
of the widowed Grand Duchess Serge, who had become 
a nun and was now abbess of a wonderful convent in 
Moscow, the House of Mary and Martha. When she 


visited Livadia masses were said daily in the palace 
church. I ought not, while speaking of visitors, to 
omit mention of the old Prince Galitzin, a very odd 
person, but strongly attached to the Tsar, to whom 
he presented a part of his own estate, some distance to 
Livadia, and to which we made a special excursion on 
the royal yacht. Another memorable excursion was 
to the estates of Prince Oldenbourg on the coast of 
Caucasia. The sea that day was very rough and 
by the time we reached our destination the Empress 
was so prostrated that she could not go ashore. It 
was a pity because she missed what to all the others 
was a remarkable spectacle, a grand holiday of the 
Caucasians who, in their picturesque costumes, crowded 
down to the shore to greet their Sovereigns. The 
whole countryside was in festival, great bonfires burn- 
ing in all the hills and on all the meadows wild music 
and the most fascinating of native dances. 

Such was life in the Crimea in the old, vanished days. 
Simple, happy, kind, and loyal, all that was best in 


THESE yearly visits to the Crimea were diversi- 
fied with holiday voyages on the Standert, and 
visits to relatives and close friends in various countries. 
In 1 9 10 their Majesties visited Riga and other Baltic 
ports where they were royally welcomed, afterwards 
voyaging to Finnish waters where they received as 
guests the King and Queen of Sweden, This was an 
official visit, hence attended with considerable cere- 
mony, exchange visits of the Sovereigns from yacht 
to warship, state dinners and receptions. At one of 
these dinners I sat next the admiral of the Swedish 
fleet, who was much depressed because during the royal 
salute to the Emperor one of his sailors had acci- 
dentally been killed. 

In the autumn of 1910 the Emperor and Empress 
went to Nauheim, hoping that the waters would have 
a beneficial effect on her failing health. They left on 
a cold and rainy day and both were in a melancholy 
state, partly because of separation from the beloved 
home, and partly because of the quite apparent weak- 
ness of the Empress. On her account the Emperor 
showed himself deeply disturbed. "I would do any- 
thing," he said to me, "even to going to prison, if she 
could only be well again." This anxiety was shared 
by the whole household, even by the servants who 
stood in line on the staircase saying their farewells, 



kissing the shoulder of the Emperor and the gloved 
hand of the Empress. 

I heard almost daily from Frieberg, where the 
family were stopping, letters from the Emperor, the 
Empress, and the children, telling me of their daily 
life. At length came a letter from the Empress sug- 
gesting that I join my father at Hombourg, not far 
distant, that we might have opportunity for occasional 
meetings. As soon as I arrived I telephoned the 
chateau at Frieberg, and the next day a motor car 
was sent to fetch me. I found the Empress improved 
in health but looking thin and tired from the rather 
rigorous cure. The Emperor, in his civilian clothes, 
looked unfamiliar and strange, but he wore the con- 
ventional citizen's garb because he as well as the Em- 
press wished to remain as far as possible private per- 
sons. When the health of the Empress permitted she, 
with Olga and Tatiana, enjoyed going unattended to 
Nauheim, walking unnoticed through the streets, and 
gazing admiringly into shop windows like ordinary 
tourists. Once the Emperor and the young Grand 
Duchesses motored over to Hombourg and for a short 
hour walked about quite happily unobserved. Only too 
soon, however, the Emperor was recognized and our 
whole small party, was obliged to flee precipitously be- 
fore the gathering crowds and the ever enterprising 
news photographers. On some of our outings the 
Emperor was more fortunate. Once when we were 
wandering along a country road on the outskirts of 
Hombourg a wagon passing us dropped suddenly Into 
the road a heavy box. The carrier, try as he would, 
could not succeed in lifting the box back to Its place 


until the Emperor went forward and, exerting all his 
strength, helped the man out of his difficulty. The 
carrier thanked his Majesty with every expression of 
respect and gratitude, recognizing him as a gentle- 
man but never dreaming, of course, of his exalted sta- 
tion. To my expressions of amused enjoyment of the 
situation the Emperor said to me gravely: "I have 
come to believe that the higher a man's station in life 
the less it becomes him to assume any airs of su- 
periority. I want my children to be brought up In this 
same belief." 

Soon after this I returned to Russia to visit my 
sister, who had just borne her first baby, a little girl 
named for the Grand Duchess Tatiana, who acted as 
godmother for the child. My stay was not long, as 
letters from the Empress called me to Frankfort in 
order to be near her. On my arrival at Frankfort a 
surprise awaited me in the form of an invitation from 
the Grand Duke Ernest of Hesse to stay with his Im- 
perial guests at his castle. At the castle gates I was 
welcomed by Mme. Grancy, the charming hof- 
mistress of the Hessian Court, and by Miss Kerr, a 
bright and clever English girl, maid of honor to 
Princess Victoria. Miss Kerr took me at once to my 
apartments, near her own, and I quickly made myself 
at home. That night at dinner I sat between the Em- 
peror and our host, the Grand Duke of Hesse. The 
company, which was most distinguished, included 
Prince Henry of Prussia, who that evening happened 
to be in rather a disagreeable mood, Princess Irene, 
Princess Victoria of Battenberg, and her beautiful 
daughter Princess Louise, Prince George of Greece, 


and the two semi-Invalid sons of Prince and Princess 
Henry. The Empress was not present, being excused 
on account of her cure. Besides, it was understood 
that the Empress almost never appeared at state 

The Grand Duke of Hesse I have always liked ex- 
tremely both for his amiable disposition and for his 
many accomplishments. He was, and is still, an un- 
usually gifted musician, a painter, and an artist crafts- 
man seriously interested in the great pottery in Darm- 
stadt, where his own designs are used. He has always 
been a man of liberal social ideals and his popularity 
among the people of Hesse not even the German Revo- 
lution has been powerful enough to overthrow. His 
wife, Princess Eleanor, when I knew her, was dignified 
and gracious and gifted with a genuine talent for dress. 
Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the Kaiser and 
brother-in-law of the Empress, was a tall and hand- 
some man, but inclined to be — let us say — tempera- 
mental. At times he was overbearing and very satiri- 
cal, and at others friendly and charming. His wife 
was a small woman, simple in manner and of a kindly, 
unselfish nature. Princess Alice, daughter of Princess 
Victoria of Battenberg and wife of Prince Andrew of 
Greece, was a beautiful woman but unhappily quite 

The Castle of Frleberg, which stands on a high hill 
overlooking a low valley and the little red-roofed 
town of Nauheim, is an ancient structure not particu- 
larly attractive either inside or out. There was noth- 
ing much for Grand Duke Ernest's guests to do in the 
way of amusement except to walk and drive. Of the 


Empress I saw rather less than we had planned, but 
sometimes late in the evenings the Emperor, the Em- 
press, and myself met for Russian tea and for familiar 
talks before bedtime. 

In October or November their Majesties returned 
to Tsarskoe Selo, the Empress greatly benefited by 
her cure. How happy we were to be once more at 
home, the Empress in her charming boudoir hung 
with mauve silk and fragrant with fresh roses and 
lilacs, I in my own little house which I dearly loved 
even though the floors were so cold. The opal-hued 
boudoir of the Empress, where we spent a great deal 
of our time, was a lovely, quiet place, so quiet that the 
footsteps of the children and the sound of their 
pianos in the rooms above were often quite audible. 
The Empress usually lay on a low couch over which' 
hung her favorite picture, a large painting of the 
Holy Virgin asleep and surrounded by angels. Beside 
her couch stood a table, books on the lower shelf, and 
on the upper a confusion of family photographs, 
letters, telegrams, and papers. It was undeniably a 
weakness of the Empress that she was not in the least 
systematic about her correspondence. Intimate letters, 
it is true, she answered promptly, but others she often 
left for weeks untouched. About once a month Made- 
leine, the principal maid of the Empress, would invade 
the boudoir and implore her mistress to clear up this 
heap of neglected correspondence. The Empress 
usually began by begging to be left alone, but in the 
end she always gave in to the importunities of the in- 
valuable Madeleine. The Empress of course had a 
private secretary, Count Rostovseff, but it was one of 


her peculiarities that she preferred to handle her letters 
and telegrams before her secretary, and he seemed to 
accustom himself with ease to her dilatory ways. 

It would be difficult to imagine two people more 
widely different on points of this kind than Nicholas II 
and Alexandra Feodorovna. Their private apart- 
ments were very close together, the Emperor's study, 
billiard and sitting room and his dressing room with 
a fine swimming bath, almost adjoining the apartments 
of the Empress. The big antechamber to the study, 
well furnished with chairs and tables and many books 
and magazines, looked out on a court, and here people 
who had business with the Emperor waited until they 
were summoned to his private room. The study was a 
perfect model of orderliness, the big writing table 
having every pen and pencil exactly in its place. The 
large calendar also with appointments written care- 
fully in the Emperor's own hand was always precisely 
in its proper place. The Emperor often said that he 
wanted to be able to go into his study in the dark and 
put his hand at once on any object he knew to be there. 
The Emperor was equally particular about the ap- 
pointments of his other rooms. The dressing table in 
the white-tiled bathroom, separated from the sitting 
room by a corridor and a small staircase, was as much 
a model of neatness as the study table, nor could the 
Emperor have tolerated valets who would not have 
kept his rooms in a condition of perpetual good order. 
Of course the ample garderobes, where the gowns, 
wraps, hats, and jewels of the Empress and the in- 
numerable uniforms of the Emperor were kept, were 
always in order because they were in the care of ex- 


perienced servants and were rarely if ever visited by 
others than their responsible guardians. 

The Emperor's combined billiard and sitting room 
was not very much used because the Emperor spent 
most of his leisure hours in his wife's boudoir. But it 
was in the billiard room that the Emperor kept his 
many albums of photographs, records of his reign. 
These albums bound in green with the Imperial mono- 
gram, contained photographs taken over a period of 
twenty years. The Empress had her own albums full 
of equally priceless records, priceless from the his- 
torian's standpoint at any rate, and each of the chil- 
dren had their own. There was an expert photog- 
rapher attached to the household whose only duty was 
to develop and print these photographs, which were, 
in almost every case, mounted by the royal pho- 
tographer's own hand. This work used to be done, as 
a rule, on rainy days, either in the palace or on board 
the Standert. The Emperor, as usual, was neater 
about this work of pasting photographic prints than 
any other member of the household. He could not en- 
dure the sight of the least drop of glue on a table. As 
might be expected of so orderly a person the Emperor 
was slow about almost everything he did. When the 
Empress wrote a letter she did it very quickly, hold- 
ing her portfolio on her knees on her chaise longue. 
When the Emperor wrote a letter it was a matter of 
hours before it was completed. I remember once at 
Livadia the Emperor retiring to his study at two 
o'clock to write an important letter to his mother. At 
five, the Empress afterwards told me, the letter re- 
mained unfinished. 


The private life of the Imperial Family in these 
years before the War was quiet and uneventful. The 
Empress never left her room before noon, it being her 
custom, since her illness, to read and write propped 
up on pillows on her bed. Luncheon was at one 
o'clock, the Emperor, his aide-de-camp for the day, 
the children, and an occasional guest attending. After 
luncheon the Emperor went at once to his study to 
work or to receive visitors. Before tea time he usually 
went for a brisk walk in the open. 

At half past two I came to the Empress, and if the 
weather was fine and she well enough, we went for a 
drive or a walk. Otherwise we read or worked until 
five, when the family tea was served. Tea was a meal 
in which there was never the slightest variation. Al- 
ways appeared the same little white-draped table with 
its silver service, the glasses in their silver standards, 
and for the rest simply plates of hot bread and butter 
and a few English biscuits. Never anything new, never 
any surprises in the way of cakes or sweetmeats. The 
only difference in the Imperial tea table came in Lent, 
when butter and even bread made with butter disap- 
peared, and a small dish or two of nuts was substi- 
tuted. The Empress often used gently to complain, 
saying that other people had much more interesting 
teas, but she who was supposed to have almost un- 
limited power, was in reality quite unable to change 
a single deadly detail of the routine of the Russian 
Court, where things had been going on almost exactly 
the same for generations. The same arrangement of 
furniture in the state rooms, the same braziers of in- 
cense carried by footmen in the long corridors, the 


same house messengers in archaic costumes of red and 
gold with ostrich-feathered caps, and for all I know the 
same plates for hot bread and butter on the same tea 
table, were traditions going back to Catherine the 
Great, or Peter, or farther still perhaps. 

Every day at the same moment the door opened and 
the Emperor came in, sat down at the tea table, but- 
tered a piece of bread, and began to sip his tea. He 
drank every day two glasses, never more, never less, 
and as he drank he glanced over his telegrams and 
newspapers. The children were the only ones who 
found tea time at all exciting. They were dressed for 
it in fresh white frocks and colored sashes, and spent 
most of the hour playing on the floor with toys kept 
especially for them in a corner of the boudoir. As they 
grew older needlework and embroidery were substi- 
tuted for the toys, the Empress disliking to see her 
daughters sitting with idle hands. 

From six to eight the Emperor was busy with his 
ministers, and he usually came directly from his study 
to the eight o'clock family dinner. This was never 
a ceremonial meal, the guests, if any, being relatives 
or intimate friends. At nine the Empress, in the rich 
dinner gown and jewels she always wore, even on the 
most informal evenings, went to the bedroom of the 
Tsarevitch to hear him say his prayers and to tuck 
him into bed for the night. The Emperor worked 
until eleven, and until that hour the Empress, the two 
older Grand Duchesses, and I read, had a little music, 
or otherwise passed the time. Perhaps it is worth re- 
cording that bridge, or in fact any other card games, 
we never played. Nobody in the family cared at all 


for cards, and only a little, once in a while, for dom- 
inoes. At eleven the evening tea was served, and after 
that we separated, the Emperor to write his diary 
for the day, the Empress and the children to bed and 
I for home. All his life the Emperor kept a daily 
record of events, but like all the private papers of 
the Imperial Family, the diaries were seized by the 
Revolutionary leaders and probably (although I still 
hope to the contrary) destroyed. The diaries of 
Nicholas II, apart from any possible sentimental as- 
sociations, should be possessed of great historical 

Monotonous though it may have been, the private 
life of the Emperor and his family was one of cloud- 
less happiness. Never, in all the twelve years of my 
association with them, did I hear an impatient word 
or surprise an angry look between the Emperor and the 
Empress. To him she was always "Sunny" or "Sweet- 
heart," and he came into her quiet room, with its mauve 
hangings and its fragrant flowers, as into a haven of 
rest and peace. Politics and cares of state were left 
outside. Never were we allowed to speak of them. 
The Empress, on her part, kept her own troubles to 
herself. Never did she yield to the temptation to con- 
fide in him her perplexities, the foolish and spiteful 
intrigues of her ladies in waiting, nor even lesser 
troubles concerning the education and upbringing of 
the children. "He has the whole nation to think 
about," she often said to me. The only care she 
brought to the Emperor was the ever precarious health 
of Alexei, but this the whole family constantly felt, 
and it had to be spoken of very often. The Imperial 


Family was absolutely united in love and sympathy. I 
like to remember of the children, who adored their 
parents, that they never felt the slightest resentment 
of their mother's attachment for me. Sometimes I 
think the little Grand Duchess Marie, who especially 
worshipped her father, felt a little jealous when he 
invited me, as he often did, to accompany him on walks 
in the palace gardens. This may be imagination, and 
at all events the child's slight jealousy never inter- 
fered with our friendship. 

I think the Emperor liked to walk with me because 
he had need to talk to someone he trusted of purely 
personal cares which troubled his mind and which 
he could share with few. Some of these cares were of 
old origin, but had never been forgotten. I remember 
once he began to tell me, almost without any preface, 
of the dreadful disaster which attended his coronation, 
a panic, induced by bad management of the police, in 
the course of which scores of people were crushed to 
death. At the very hour of this fatal accident the 
coronation banquet took place, and the Emperor and 
Empress, despite their grief and horror, were obliged 
to take part in it exactly as though nothing had hap- 
pened. The Emperor told me with what difficulty 
they had concealed their emotions, often having to 
hold their serviettes to their faces to hide their stream- 
ing tears. 

One of the happiest memories of my life at Tsar- 
skoe Selo were the evenings when the Emperor, all 
cares past and present forgot, sat with us in the Em- 
press's boudoir reading aloud from the work of Tol- 
stoy, Tourgenieff, or his favorite Gogol. The Emperor 


read extremely well, with a pleasant voice and a re- 
markably clear enunciation. In the years of the Great 
War, so full of anguish and apprehension, the Em- 
peror found relief in reading aloud amusing stories 
of Averchenko and Tefify, Russian humorists who per- 
haps have not yet been translated into foreign tongues. 
Before the War the Emperor was pictured far and 
wide as a cruel tyrant deliberately opposed to the in- 
terests of his people, while the Empress appeared as a 
cold, proud woman, a malade imaginaire, wholly in- 
different to the public good. Both of these pictures 
are cruelly misrepresentative. Nicholas II and his 
wife were human beings, with human faults and fail- 
ings like the rest of us. Both had quick tempers, not 
invariably under perfect control. With the Empress 
temper was a matter of rapid explosion and equally 
sudden recovery. She was often for the moment 
furiously angry with her maids whom too often she dis- 
covered in insincerities and deceit. The Emperor's 
anger was slower to arouse and much slower to pass. 
Ordinarily he was the kindest and simplest of men, 
not in the least proud or over-conscious of his exalted 
position. His self-control was so great that to those 
who knew him little he often appeared absent-minded 
and indifferent. The fact is he was so reserved that 
he seemed to fear any kind of self-revealment. His 
mind was singularly acute, and he should have used it 
more accurately to gauge the characters of persons 
surrounding him. It was entirely within his mental 
powers to sense the atmosphere of gossip and calumny 
that surrounded the Court during the last years, and 
certainly it was within his power to put a stop to idle 


and malicious talk. But it was rarely possible to 
arouse him to its importance. "What high-minded 
person would believe such nonsense?" was his usual 
comment. Alas ! he little realized how few were the 
really high-minded people who, in the last years of 
the Empire, surrounded his person or that of the 

Sometimes the Emperor found himself obliged to 
take cognizance of the malicious gossip which made 
the Empress desperately unhappy and in the end 
poisoned the minds of thousands of really well-mean- 
ing and loyal Russians. Beginning as far back as 1909 
the tide of treachery had begun to rise, and one of the 
earliest of those responsible for the final disaster, I 
regret to say, was a woman of the highest aristocracy, 
one long trusted and affectionately regarded by the 
Imperial Family. Mile. Sophie Tutcheff, a protegee 
of the Grand Duchess Serge, and a lady who was a 
general over-governess to the children, was perhaps 
the first of all the intriguing courtiers of whom I have 
positive knowledge. Mile. Tutcheff belonged to one of 
the oldest and most powerful families in Moscow, and 
she was strongly under the influence of certain bigoted 
priests, especially that of her cousin. Bishop Vladimir 
Putiata, who for ten years had lived in Rome as of- 
ficial representative of the Russian Church. It was 
he, I firmly believe, who inspired in Mile. Tutcheff 
her antipathy to the Empress and her evil reports con- 
cerning the life of the Imperial Family. Mile. Tut- 
cheff, either of her own accord or encouraged by her 
relative, was continually opposed to what she called 
the English upbringing of the Imperial children. She 


wished to change the whole system, make it entirely 
Slav and free from any imported ideas. 

Mile. Tutcheff was, I believe, the first person to 
create what afterwards became the international Ras- 
putine scandal. At the time of her residence in the 
palace at Tsarskoe Selo Rasputine's influence had 
scarcely been felt at all by the Emperor or Empress, 
although he was an intimate friend of other members 
of the Romanoff family. But Mile. Tutcheff spread 
abroad a series of the most amazing falsehoods in 
which Rasputine figured as a constant visitor and vir- 
tually the spiritual guardian of the Imperial Family. 
I do not wish to repeat these stories, but merely to 
give an idea of their preposterous nature I will say 
that she represented Rasputine as having the freedom 
of the nurseries and even the bedchambers of the 
young Grand Duchesses. According to tales pur- 
ported to have their origin with her, Rasputine was 
in the habit of bathing the children and afterward 
talking with them, sitting on their beds. 

I do not think the Emperor believed all these ru- 
mors, but he did believe that Mile. Tutcheff was guilty 
of malicious gossip of his family, and he therefore 
summoned her to his study and rebuked her severely, 
asking her how she dared to spread idle and untrue 
stories about his children. Of course she denied hav- 
ing done anything of the sort, but she admitted that 
she had spoken ill of Rasputine. "But you do not 
know the man," protested the Emperor, "and in any 
case, if you had criticisms to make of anyone known 
to this household you should have made them to us 
and not to the public." Mile. Tutcheff admitted that 


she did not know Rasputine, and when the Emperor 
suggested that before she spoke evil of him it might 
be well for her to meet him she haughtily replied: 
"Never will I meet him." 

For a short time after this Mile. Tutcheff remained 
at Court, but being a rather stupid and very obstinate 
woman, she continued her campaign of intrigue. She 
managed to influence Princess Oblensky, long a favor- 
ite lady in waiting, until she entirely estranged her 
from the Empress. She even began to speak to the 
children against their own mother, until the Empress, 
who felt herself powerless against the woman, actu- 
ally refused to visit the nurseries, and when she wanted 
her children near her sent for them to come to her pri- 
vate apartments. Too well she knew the Emperor's 
extreme reluctance to dismiss any person connected 
with the Court, and she waited in silent pain until the 
scandal grew to such proportions that the Emperor 
could no longer ignore it. Then Mile. Tutcheff was 
summarily dismissed and sent back to her home in 

So powerful was the influence of the Tutcheff family 
that this incident was magnified beyond all proper pro- 
portions, and the former over-governess of the Im- 
perial children was represented as a poor victim of 
Rasputine, a man whom she had never seen and who 
probably never knew of her existence. The last I ever 
heard of Mile. Tutcheff, who, by the way, was a niece 
of the esteemed poet Tutcheff, she was living in Mos- 
cow, under the special protection of the Bolshevik 
Government. Her cousin, the former Bishop Vla- 
dimir Putiata, I understand has for several years been 


a great favorite of those Communists who have prose- 
cuted such brave and fearless opponents of church 
despoilment as the unhappy Patriarch Tikhon and 

Of the Emperor I think it ought to be said that his 
education, under his governor, General Bogdanovitch, 
was calculated to weaken the will of any boy and to 
encourage in Nicholas II his natural reserve and what 
might be called indolence of mind. But this I know 
of him that after his marriage he became much more 
resolute of temper and much more gentle of manner 
than other members of his family. It is certain that 
he loved Russia and the Russian people with his whole 
soul, and yet, under the political system for centuries 
in force, he had often to leave to people whom he 
knew only superficially many important details of gov- 
ernment. Unquestionably it was a fault of the Em- 
peror that he was over-confident, and only too ready 
to believe what was told him by people whom he per- 
sonally liked. He was impulsive in most of his acts 
and sometimes made important nominations on the im- 
pression of a moment. It goes without saying that 
many of his ofllicials took advantage of this over- 
confidence and sometimes acted in his name without 
his knowledge or authority. 

Only too well for her own happiness and peace of 
mind did the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna under- 
stand her husband. She knew his kind heart, his love 
for his country and his people, but she knew also how 
easily influenced he could be by men in whom he re- 
posed confidence. She knew that too often his acts 
were governed by the last person he happened to con- 


suit. But for all this I wish to say that the Emperor 
never appeared to his friends as a weak man. He 
had qualities of leadership with very limited oppor- 
tunities to exercise those qualities. In his own domain 
he was "every inch an Emperor." The whole Court, 
from the Grand Dukes down to the last petty official 
and intriguing maid of honor, recognized this and 
stood in real awe of their Sovereign. I have a keen 
recollection of an episode at dinner in which a certain 
young Grand Duke ventured to utter an ill-founded 
grievance against a distinguished general who had 
dared to rebuke his Highness in public. The Em- 
peror instantly recognized this as a mere display of 
temper and egoism, and his contempt and indignation 
knew no bounds. He literally turned white with 
anger, and the unfortunate young Grand Duke 
trembled before him like an offending servant. After- 
wards the still indignant Emperor said to me: "He 
may thank God that the Empress and you were pres- 
ent. Otherwise I could not have held myself in hand." 
Towards the end of the Russian tragedy in 19 17 the 
Emperor had learned to hold himself almost too well 
in hand, to subdue and to conceal the commanding per- 
sonality of which he was naturally possessed. It 
would have been far better if he had used his per- 
sonality and his great charm of manner to offset the 
tide of intrigue and revolution which in the midst of a 
world war overcame the Empire. 

As long as I knew him, whether in the privacy of 
the palace at Tsarskoe Selo, in the informal life of 
the Crimea, on the Imperial yacht, in public or in pri- 
vate, I was always conscious of the strong personality 


of the Emperor. Everybody felt it. I can instance 
one occasion at a great reception of the Tauride 
Zemstvo when two men present were deliberately re- 
solved to behave in a disrespectful manner to the Em- 
peror. But the moment he entered the room these 
men found themselves completely overpowered. 
Their manner changed and they showed in every sub- 
sequent word and action their shame and regret. At 
one time a group of Social Revolutionaries were able 
to put on a cruiser which the Emperor was to visit a 
sailor charged with his Sovereign's assassination. But 
when the opportunity came the man literally could not 
do the deed. For his "weakness" this poor wretch 
was afterwards murdered by members of his party. 

The character of the Empress was quite different 
from that of her husband. She was less lovable to 
the many, and yet of a stronger fiber. Where he was 
impulsive she was usually cautious and thoughtful. 
Where he was over-optimistic she was inclined to be 
a bit suspicious, especially of the weak and self-in- 
dulgent aristocracy. It was generally believed that the 
Empress was difficult to approach, but this was never 
true of sincere and disinterested souls. Suffering al- 
ways made a strong appeal to the Empress, and when- 
ever she knew of anyone sad or in trouble her heart 
was instantly touched. Few people, even in Russia, 
ever knew how much the Empress did for the poor, the 
sick, and the helpless. She was a born nurse, and from 
her earliest accession took an interest in hospitals and 
in nursing quite foreign to native Russian ideas. She 
not only visited the sick herself, in hospitals, in homes, 
but she enormously increased the efficiency of the hos- 


pital system in Russia. Out of her own private funds 
the Empress founded and supported two excellent 
schools for training nurses, especially in the care of 
children. These schools were founded on the best 
English models, and were under the general super- 
vision of the famous Dr. Rauchfuss and of head nurse 
Miss Puchkine, a near relative of the great poet Puch- 
kine. I could enlarge at length on the many construc- 
tive philanthropies of the Empress, paid for by her- 
self, hospitals, homes, and orphanages, planned in al- 
most every detail by herself, and constantly visited and 
inspected. After the Japanese War she built a Hotel 
des Invalides, in which hundreds of disabled men were 
taught trades. She also built a number of cottages 
with gardens for wounded soldiers and their families, 
most of these war philanthropies being under the 
supervision of a trusted friend. Colonel the Count 
Shoulenbourg of the Empress's favorite Lancers. 

The Empress possessed a heart and a mind utterly 
incapable of dishonesty or deceit, consequently she 
could never tolerate either in other people. This 
naturally got her heartily disliked by people of society 
to whom deceit was a matter of long practice. An- 
other quality condemned in the Empress because en- 
tirely misunderstood, was her care as to expenses. 
Brought up in the comparative poverty of a small Ger- 
man Court, the Empress never lost the habit of a 
cautious use of money. Quite as in private families, 
where economy is an absolute necessity, the clothing 
of the young Grand Duchesses when outgrown by the 
elders were handed down to the younger girls. In the 
matter of selecting gifts for guests, for relatives, or 


at holidays for the suite, the Emperor simply selected 
from the rich assortment sent to the palace objects 
which best pleased him. The Empress, on the other 
hand, always examined the price cards and considered 
before choosing whether the jewel or the fur or the 
bijou, whatever it was, was worth what was asked for 
it. The difference between the Emperor and the Em- 
press in regard to money was a difference in experi- 
ence. The Emperor, all his life, had had everything 
he wanted without ever paying a single ruble for any- 
thing. He never had any money, never needed any 
money. I can recall but one solitary instance in which 
the Tsar of all the Russias ever even felt the need of 
touching a kopeck of his illimitable riches. It was in 
191 1 when their Majesties began to attend services at 
the Feodorovsky Cathedral at Tsarskoe Selo. In this 
church it was the custom to pass through the congre- 
gations alms basins into which everyone, of course, 
dropped a contribution, large or small. The Emperor 
alone was entirely penniless, and embarrassed by his 
unique situation he made a representation to the 
proper authorities, after which at exact monthly inter- 
vals he was furnished with four gold pieces for the 
alms basin of the Feodorovsky Cathedral. If he hap- 
pened to attend an extra service he had to borrow his 
contribution from the Empress. 

But if the Emperor carried no money in his pockets 
it was well enough known that he commanded vast 
sums, and it was characteristic of the sycophants who 
surrounded him that he was constantly importuned for 
"loans," for money to help out gambling or otherwise 
impecunious officers who, aware of the Emperor's great 


love for the army, played on it to their advantage. 
One day when the Emperor was taking his usual brisk 
walk through the grounds before tea a young officer 
who had managed to conceal himself in the shrubbery 
sprang out, threw himself on his knees, and threatened 
to kill himself on the spot unless the Emperor granted 
him a sum of money to clear the desperate wretch of 
some reckless deed. The Emperor was frightfully en- 
raged — but he sent the man the money demanded. 

The Empress had always handled money and knew 
quite well how to spend it wisely. From the depths 
of her honest soul she despised the use of money to 
buy loyalty and devotion. For a long time after my 
first formal service as maid of honor, with the usual 
salary, I received from her Majesty literally nothing 
at all. From my parents I had the income from my 
dowry, four hundred rubles a month, a sum entirely 
inadequate to pay the running expenses of my small 
establishment with its three absolutely indispensable 
servants, and at the same time to dress myself prop- 
erly as a member of the Court circle. The Empress's 
brother. Grand Duke Ernest of Hesse, was one of 
the first of her intimates to point out to her the diffi- 
culties of my position, and to suggest to her that I 
be given a position at Court. The suggestion was not 
welcomed by Alexandra Feodorovna. "Is it not pos- 
sible for the Empress of Russia to have one friend?" 
she cried bitterly, and she reminded her brother that 
her relation and mine were not without precedent in 
Russia. The Empress Dowager had a friend. Prin- 
cess Oblensky; also the Empress Marie Alexandrovna, 
wife of Alexander III, had in Mme. Malzoff an In- 


timate associate, and neither of these women had had 
any Court functions. Why should she not cherish a 
friendship free from all material considerations? 
However, after her brother and also Count Fred- 
ericks, Minister of the Court, had pointed out to her 
that it was scarcely proper that the Empress's best 
friend and confidante should wear made-over gowns 
and go home from the palace on foot at midnight 
because she had no money for cabs, the Empress be- 
gan to relent a little. At first her change of attitude 
took the form of useful gifts bestowed at Christmas 
and Easter, dress patterns, furs, gloves, and the like. 
Finally one day she asked me to discuss with her the 
vv'hole subject of my expenses. Making me sit down 
with pencil and paper, she commanded me to set forth 
a complete budget of my monthly expenditures, ex- 
actly what I paid for food, service, light, fire, and 
clothing. The domestic budget, apart from my small 
income, came to two hundred and seventy rubles a 
month, and at the orders of the Empress I was there- 
after furnished monthly with the exact sum of two 
hundred and seventy rubles. It never occurred to 
her to name the amount in round numbers of three 
hundred rubles. Nor did it occur to me except as a 
matter of faint amusement. Of course I was often 
embarrassed for money even after I became possessed 
of this regular income, and even later when it was 
augmented by two thousand rubles a year for rent, 
and it often wrung my heart to have to say no to ap- 
peals for money. I knew that I appeared selfish and 
hard-hearted. The truth was that I was simply 


THE year 19 12, although destined to end in the 
almost fatal illness of the Tsarevitch, began hap- 
pily for the Imperial Family. Peaceful and busy were 
the winter and spring, the Emperor engaged as usual 
with the affairs of the Empire, the Empress, as far as 
her health permitted, superintending the education of 
her children, and all of them busy with their books and 
their various tutors. Of the education and upbringing 
of the children of Nicholas II and the Empress Alex- 
andra Feodorovna it should be said that while nothing 
was omitted to make them most loyal Russians, the 
educational methods employed were cosmopolitan. 
They had French, Swiss, and English tutors, but all 
their studies were under the superintendence of a Rus- 
sian, the highly cultured M. Petroff, while for certain 
branches such as physics and natural science they were 
privately instructed in the gymnasium of Tsarskoe Selo. 
The first teacher of the Imperial children, she from 
whom they received their elementary education, was 
Miss Schneider, familiarly called "Trina," a native of 
one of the Baltic states of the Empire. Miss 
Schneider first came into service, years before the mar- 
riage of the Emperor and Empress, as instructor in 
the Russian language to Elizabeth, Grand Duchess 
Serge. Afterwards she taught Russian to the young 

Empress, and was retained at Court as reader to her 



Majesty. "Trina" was rather a difficult person in 
some ways, taking every advantage of her privileged 
position, but she was undeniably valuable and was 
heart and soul in her devotion to the family. She ac- 
companied them to Siberia and there disappeared with 

Perhaps the most valued of the instructors was M. 
Pierre Gilliard, whose book "Thirteen Years at the 
Russian Court" has been published in several 
languages and has been very well received. M. Gil- 
liard, a Swiss gentlemen of many accomplishments, 
came first to Tsarskoe Selo as teacher of French to 
the young Grand Duchesses. Afterwards he became 
tutor to the Tsarevitch. M. Gilliard lived in the 
palace, and enjoyed to the fullest extent the confidence 
and affection of their Majesties. Mr. Gibbs, the 
English tutor, was also a great favorite. Both of these 
men followed the family into exile and remained faith- 
ful and devoted friends until forcibly expelled by the 

In his book M. Gilliard has recorded that he was 
never able to teach the Grand Duchesses to speak a 
fluent French. This is true because the languages 
used in the family were English and Russian, and 
the children never became interested in any other 
languages. "Trina" was supposed to teach them 
German but she had less success with that language 
than M. Gilliard with French. The Emperor and 
Empress spoke English almost exclusively, and so did 
the Empress's brother, the Grand Duke of Hesse and 
his family. Among themselves the children usually 
spoke Russian. The Tsarevitch alone, thanks to his 



constant association with M. Gilliard, mastered the 
French language. 

Every detail of the education of her children was 
supervised by the Empress, who often sat with them 
for hours together in the schoolroom. She herself 
taught them sewing and needlework, her best pupil 
being Tatiana, who had an extraordinary talent for 
all kinds of handwork. She not only made beautiful 
blouses and other garments, embroideries and crochets, 
but she was able on occasions to arrange her mother's 
long hair, and to dress her as well as a professional 
maid. Not that the Empress required as much dress- 
ing as the ordinary woman of rank and wealth. She 
had that kind of Victorian modesty that forbade any 
intrusion on the privacy of her dressing room. All 
that her maids were allowed to do was to dress her 
hair, fasten her boots, and put on her gown and 
jewels. The Empress had great taste in dress and 
always chose her jewels to finish rather than to 
ornament her costumes. "Only rubies to-day," she 
would command, or "pearls and sapphires with this 

The Empress and the children have been repre- 
sented as surrounded by German servants, but this 
accusation is absolutely false. The chief woman of 
the household was Mme. Geringer, a Russian lady 
who came daily to the palace, ordered gowns, did 
all necessary shopping, paid bills, and attended to any 
business required by the Empress. The chief maid 
of the Empress was Madeleine Zanotti, of English 
and Italian parentage, whose home before she came 
to Tsarskoe Selo was in England. Madeleine was a 


woman of middle age, very clever, and as usual with 
one in her position, inclined to be tyrannical. Made- 
leine had charge of all the gowns and jewels of the 
Empress, and as I think I have related, she was often 
critical of her mistress's indolent habits In regard to 
correspondence, etc. A second maid was Tutelberg, 
"Toodles," a rather slow and quiet girl from the Bal- 
tic. She and Madeleine were mortal enemies, but 
they agreed on one thing at least, and that was that 
they would not wear caps and aprons. The Empress 
good-naturedly acquiesced and permitted simple black 
gowns and ribbon bows in the hair for her chief maids. 
There were three under maids, all Russians, and all 
perfectly devoted to the Imperial Family. These girls, 
who wore the regulation caps and white aprons, cared 
for the rooms of the Empress and the children. All 
the maids, when the Revolution came, remained faith- 
ful to the family, and one of them, as I shall tell later, 
performed the dangerous sei-vice of smuggling letters 
in and out of Siberia. One girl, Anna Demidoff, 
shared the fate of the family in 191 8. 

The Emperor had three valets, one of whom, Shal- 
feroff, who had served Alexander III, turned spy 
during the Revolution. Another, old Raziesh, also a 
former servant of Alexander III, died in the service 
of Nicholas II, and was replaced by Chemoduroff, a 
fine and very loyal man. The third valet's name was 
Katoff. All three, as their names testify, were Rus- 
sians, as were also the three men in the service 
of the Empress, Leo and Kondratief, both of whom 
died during the early days of the Revolution, and 
Volkoff, who followed the Royal exiles as far into 


Siberia as he was permitted by the Provisional 

The children's nurses were Russians, the head 
nurse being Marie Vechniakoff. Others I remember 
well were Alexandra, nicknamed "Shoura," a great 
favorite with the girls, Anna and Lisa, kind, faith- 
ful girls who spoke no word of any language except 
Russian. There were, of course, hundreds of house 
servants, and to my knowledge most, if not all of 
them, were Russians. The chef was a Frenchman, 
Cubat, a very great man in his profession. Sometimes, 
when an especially splendid dish had been prepared, 
Cubat was wont to introduce it, as it were, by stand- 
ing magnificently in the doorway, clad in immaculate 
white linen, until the dish was served. Cubat became 
very wealthy in the Tsar's service, and now lives hap- 
pily and luxuriously in his native France. He was, I 
believe, truly loyal to the Imperial Family, which is 
more than can be said for most of the servants. Their 
children were educated at the expense of the Emperor, 
and the majority, instead of choosing useful trades, 
elected to go to the universities, where they nearly all 
became Revolutionists. In my father's opinion this 
was due to the fact that the Russian universities and 
higher schools offered little if any technical training. 
Recognizing this, the Empress created in Petrograd 
a technical school for boys and girls of the whole Em- 
pire. In this school the students were trained to be- 
come teachers in many useful handicrafts, and in addi- 
tion to this normal academy the Empress established in 
many governments schools where boys and girls were 
perfected in the beautiful peasant arts of embroidery, 


dyeing, carving, and painting. I give these details 
because I think it only just to offset with facts the 
lying slanders of sensational writers who could not 
possibly have known anything of the intimate life of 
the Imperial Family of Russia but who have sub- 
stituted propaganda for truth. 

None of these sensational writers knew or tried to 
know how simple, not to say rigorous, was the regime 
followed by the Imperial children. All of them, even 
the delicate little Tsarevitch, slept in large, well-aired 
nurseries, on hard camp beds without pillows and with 
the least possible allowance of bedclothing. They 
had cold baths every morning and warm ones only at 
night. As a consequence of this simple life their man- 
ners were unassuming and natural without a single 
trace of hauteur. Although in 19 12 the four girls 
were rapidly approaching wom.anhood^ — Olga was in 
her eighteenth year and Tatiana was nearly sixteen — 
their parents continued to regard them as children. 
The two older girls were spoken of as "the big ones," 
and were given many grown-up privileges, as for ex- 
ample, concerts and the theater to which the Em- 
peror himself escorted them. The two younger Grand 
Duchesses and the Tsarevitch, "the little ones," were 
still in the nursery. 

In the darkness of the mystery which surrounds the 
fate of these innocent children it is with poignant emo- 
tion that I recall them as they appeared, so full of life 
and joy, in those distant, yet incredibly near, days be- 
fore the World War and the downfall of Imperial 
Russia. Of the four girls, Olga and Marie were es- 
sentially Russian, altogether Romanoff in their inheri- 


tance. Olga was perhaps the cleverest of them all, 
her mind being so quick to grasp ideas, so absorbent 
of knowledge that she learned almost without applica- 
tion or close study. Her chief characteristics, I should 
say, were a strong will and a singularly straightfor- 
ward habit of thought and action. Admirable qual- 
ities in a woman, these same characteristics are often 
trying in childhood, and Olga as a little girl sometimes 
showed herself wilful and even disobedient. She had 
a hot temper which, however, she early learned to 
keep under control, and had she been allowed to live 
her natural life she would, I believe, have become a 
woman of influence and distinction. Extremely pretty, 
with brilliant blue eyes and a lovely complexion, Olga 
resembled her father In the fineness of her features, 
especially in her delicate, slightly tipped nose. 

Marie and Anastasie were also blonde types and 
very attractive girls. Marie had splendid eyes and 
rose-red cheeks. She was inclined to be stout and she 
had rather thick lips which detracted a little from 
her beauty. Marie had a naturally sweet disposition 
and a very good mind. All three of these girls were 
more or less of the tomboy type. They had something 
of the innate brusqueness of their Romanoff ancestors, 
which displayed itself in a tendency to mischief. An- 
astasie, a sharp and clever child, was a very monkey 
for jokes, some of them at times almost too practical 
for the enjoyment of others. I remember once when 
the family was in their Polish estate in winter the 
children were amusing themselves at snowballing. 
The imp which sometimes seemed to possess Anastasie 
led her to throw a stone rolled in a snowball straight 


THE STANDERT. Photograph by the Empress. 


at her dearly loved sister Tatiana. The missile struck 
the poor girl fairly in the face with such force that she 
fell senseless to the ground. The grief and horror of 
Anastasie lasted for many days and permanently cured 
her of her worst propensities to practical jokes. 

Tatiana was almost a perfect reincarnation of her 
mother. Taller and slenderer than her sisters, she 
had the soft, refined features and the gentle, reserved 
manners of her English ancestry. Kindly and sym- 
pathetic of disposition, she displayed towards her 
younger sisters and her brother such a protecting 
spirit that they, in fun, nicknamed her "the governess." 
Of all the Grand Duchesses Tatiana was with the 
people the most popular, and I suspect in their hearts 
she was the most dearly loved of her parents. Cer- 
tainly she was a different type from the others even in 
appearance, her hair being a rich brown and her eyes 
so darkly gray that in the evening they seemed quite 
black. Of all the girls Tatiana was most social in her 
tastes. She liked society and she longed pathetically 
for friends. But friends for these high born but un- 
fortunate girls were very difficult to find. The Empress 
dreaded for her daughters the companionship of over- 
sophisticated young women of the aristocracy, whose 
minds, even in the schoolroom, were fed with the 
foolish and often vicious gossip of a decadent society. 
The Empress even discouraged association with 
cousins and near relatives, many of whom were un- 
wholesomely precocious in their outlook on life. 

I would not give the impression that these young 
daughters of the Emperor and Empress were forced 
to lead dull and uneventful lives. They were allowed 


to have their little preferences for this or that hand- 
some young officer with whom they danced, played 
tennis, walked, or rode. These innocent young ro- 
mances were in fact a source of amusement to their 
Majesties, who enjoyed teasing the girls about any 
dashing officer who seemed to attract thern. The 
Grand Duchess Olga, sister of the Emperor, sympa- 
thized with her nieces' love of pleasure and often ar- 
ranged tea parties and tennis matches for them, the 
guests, of course, being of their own choice. We had 
some quite jolly tea parties in my little house also. 
In the matter of dress, so important to young and 
pretty girls, the Grand Duchesses were allowed to in- 
dulge their own tastes. Mme. Brisac, an accomplished 
French dressmaker, made gowns for the Imperial 
Family, and through her the latest Paris models 
reached the palace. The girls, however, inclined to- 
wards simple English fashions, especially for out- 
door wear. In summer they dressed almost entirely in 
white. Jewels they were too young to wear except on 
very great occasions. Each girl received on her 
twelfth birthday a slender gold bracelet which was 
afterwards always worn, day and night, "for good 
luck." I have described in a previous chapter the 
Russian custom of presenting each Grand Duchess, on 
her coming of age, with a pearl and diamond neck- 
lace, but this was worn only at state functions or very 
formal balls. 

Alexei, the only son of the Emperor and Empress, 
a more tragic child than the last Dauphin of France, 
indeed one of the most tragic figures in history, was, 
apart from his terrible affliction, the loveliest and most 


attractive of the whole family. Because of his deli- 
cate health Alexei began life as a rather spoiled child. 
His chief nurse, Marie Vechniakoff, a somewhat 
over-emotional woman, made the mistake of indulging 
the child in every whim. It is easy to understand why 
she did so, because nothing more heart-rending could 
be Imagined than the little boy's moans and cries dur- 
ing his frequent illnesses. If he bumped his head 
or struck a hand or foot against a chair or table the 
usual result was a hideous blue swelling indicating a 
subcutaneous hemorrhage frightfully painful and 
often enduring for days or even weeks. 

At five Alexei was placed in charge of the sailor 
Derevanko, who for a long term of years remained 
his constant body servant and companion. Derevanko, 
while devoted to the boy, did not spoil him as his 
women nurses had done, and the man was so patient 
and resourceful that he often did wonders in allevi- 
ating the child's pain. I can still in memory hear the 
plaintive, suffering voice of Alexei begging the big 
sailor to "lift my arm," "put my leg up," "warm my 
hands," and I can see the patient, calm-eyed man work- 
ing for hours on end to give the maximum of comfort 
to the little pain-racked limbs. 

As Alexei grew older his parents carefully explained 
to him the nature of his illness and impressed on him 
the necessity of avoiding falls and blows. But 
Alexei was a child of active mind, loving sports and 
outdoor play, and it was almost impossible for him 
to avoid the very things that brought him suffering. 
"Can't I have a bicycle?" he would beg his mother. 
"Alexei, you know you can't." "Mayn't I play ten- 


nis?" "Dear, you know you mustn't." Often these 
hard denials of the natural play impulse were followed 
by a gush of tears as the child cried out: "Why can 
other boys have everything and I nothing?" 

Suffering and self-denial had their effect on the char- 
acter of Alexei. Knowing what pain and sacrifice 
meant, he was extraordinarily sympathetic towards 
other sick people. His thoughtfulness of others was 
shown in his beautiful courtesy to women and girls and 
to his elders, and in his interest in the troubles of 
servants and dependents. It was a failing of the Em- 
peror that even when he sympathized with the troubles 
of others he was rather slow to take action, unless 
indeed the matter was really serious. Alexei, on the 
contrary, was always for immediate action. I re- 
member an instance when a boy in service at the palace 
was discharged for some reason which I have quite 
forgotten. The story somehow reached the ears of 
Alexei, who immediately took sides with the boy and 
gave his father no rest until the whole case was re- 
viewed and the culprit was forgiven and restored to 
duty. Alexei usually defended all offenders, yet when 
the day came when his parents, in deep distress, told 
him that Father Gregory, that is, Rasputine, had been 
killed by members of his own family the boy's grief 
was swallowed up in rage and indignation. "Papa," 
he exclaimed, "is it possible that you will not punish 
them? The assassins of Stolypine were hanged." 

I ask the reader to remember that the Imperial 
Family firmly believed that they owed much of 
Alexei's improving health to the prayers of Rasputine. 
Alexei himself believed it. Several years before Ras- 


putine had assured the Empress that when the boy 
was twelve years old he would begin to improve and 
that by the time he was a man he would be entirely 
well. The undeniable fact is that after the age of 
twelve Alexei did begin very materially to improve. 
His illnesses became farther and farther apart and 
before 19 17 his appearance had changed marvelously 
for the better. He resembled in no way the invalid 
sons of his mother's sister, Princess Henry of Prussia, 
who suffered from his own terrible malady. What the 
best physicians of Europe had been unable to do in 
their case some mysterious force had done in the 
case of the Tsarevitch. His parents to whom the 
young boy was as their very heart's blood believed 
that the healing hand of God had wrought the cure, 
and that it was in answer to the supplication of one 
whose spirit was able to rise in higher flight than 
theirs or any other's. They knew of course that the 
boy was not yet entirely well, but they believed that 
he was getting well. Alexei believed this also and it 
is certain that he looked forward to a healthy, normal 

Alexei, like his father, dearly loved the army and 
all the pageants of military display. He had every 
kind of toy soldier, toy guns and fortresses, and with 
these he played for hours, with his sailor companion 
Derevanko, or "Dina" as the boy called him, and with 
the few boy companions he was allowed. Two of these 
boys were sons of "Dina," and a third was the son 
of one of the family physicians, by coincidence also 
named Derevanko. In the last years before the Revo- 
lution a few carefully selected boys, cadets from the 


Military School, were called to the palace to play with 
Alexei. These boys were warned of the danger of 
any rough play, and all were .extremely mindful of 
their responsibility. It was because no other type of 
boy could be trusted to play with Alexei that the Em- 
press did not often invite to the palace the children of 
the Grand Dukes. They were Romanoffs, brusque and 
rude in their manners, thoughtless of the feelings of 
others, and the Empress literally did not dare to 
leave them alone with her son. But because of her 
caution she was bitterly assailed by her enemies who 
spoke sneeringly of her preference for "low born" 
children over the aristocratic children of the family. 
The Emperor and Empress and all the children 
were passionately fond of pets, especially dogs. The 
Emperor's inseparable companion for many years was 
a splendid English collie named Iman, and when in 
the natural course of time this dog died the Emperor 
was inconsolable. After that he had a fine kennel of 
collies but he never made a special pet of any dog. 
The favorite dog of the Empress was a small, shaggy 
terrier from Scotland. This dog's name was Eira, 
and, to tell the truth, I did not like the little animal 
at all. His disagreeable habit of darting from under 
chairs and snapping at people's heels was a trial to 
my nerves. Nevertheless the Empress doted on him, 
carried him under her arm even to the dinner table, 
and amused herself greatly talking to and playing 
with the dour little creature. When he fell ill and 
had to be mercifully killed she wept in real grief and 
pity. Alexei's pets were two, a silky little spaniel 
named Joy and a beautiful big gray cat, the gift of 


General Voyeikoff. It was the only cat in the house- 
hold and it was a privileged animal, even being al- 
lowed to sleep on Alexei's bed. There were two 
other dogs, Tatiana's French bull and a little King 
Charlie which I contributed to the menagerie. Both 
of these dogs went with the family to Siberia, and Jim- 
mie, the King Charles spaniel, was found shot to death 
in that dreadful deserted house in Ekaterinaburg. 

How far, how unbelievably far away now seem 
those peaceful days of 19 12, when we were watching 
the Tsar's daughters growing towards womanhood, 
and even in our minds speculating on possible mar- 
riages for them. Their prospects as far as marriage 
was concerned, I must say, were rather vague. 
Foreign matches, because of religion and even more 
because of the girls' devotion to home and country, 
were almost out of the question, and suitable husbands 
in Russia seemed to be entirely lacking. There was 
a time in his boyhood when Dmitri, son of the Tsar's 
uncle. Grand Duke Paul, was a great favorite with 
the Imperial Family. But Dmitri as he grew older be- 
came so dissipated that he quite cut himself off from 
the prospect of an alliance with any of the Grand 
Duchesses. There had once been a faint possibility of 
an engagement between Olga and Crown Prince Carol 
of Rumania. As early as 19 10 the beautiful Queen 
Marie and her son visited Russia for the purpose of 
introducing the young people, but nothing came of the 
visit. In 19 14 the family made a return visit to 
Rumania on the Standert, the Rumanian Royal family, 
including the old Queen, "Carmen Sylva," meeting the 
yacht at Constanza, on the Black Sea, and making a 


splendid fete which lasted for three days. This time 
the matter was seriously broached to Olga who, in her 
usual quick, straightforward manner, declined the 
match. In 191 6 Prince Carol again visited the Rus- 
sian Court, and now his young man's fancy rested on 
Marie. He made a formal proposal for her hand, 
but the Emperor, declaring that Marie was nothing 
more than a schoolgirl, good-naturedly laughed the 
Prince's proposal aside. 

Not all these proposals ended so merrily. One day 
coming as usual to Peterhof, I found the Empress in 
tears. A formal proposal had just been received from 
the old Grand Duchess, Marie Pavlovna, aunt of the 
Emperor, for a marriage between her son Boris Vla- 
dimirovitch and Grand Duchess Olga. This young 
man, Prince Boris, was much better known in question- 
able circles in Paris than in the Court of Russia and the 
mere suggestion of a marriage with one of her daugh- 
ters was enough to reduce the Empress to mortified 
tears. Of course the proposal was rejected, greatly 
to the wrath of Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna, a 
Russian grande dame of the old school in which the 
debauchery of young men was regarded as a perfectly 
natural phenomenon. She never forgave the slight, 
as she chose to consider it, and later became one of 
the most active of the circle of intriguers which, from 
the safety of a foreign embassy in Petrograd, plotted 
the ruin of the Imperial Family and of their country. 

In the summer of 19 12 the family and their imme- 
diate household, including myself, went on another 
long cruise in Finnish waters. During the cruise the 
yacht was visited by the Empress Dowager of whom 


previously I had seen but little. I write with some 
hesitation about the Empress Dowager, who is still 
living, and for whom I entertain all due respect. She 
was, as I remember her then, a small, slender woman, 
not beautiful certainly, not as attractive as her sister, 
Queen Alexandra of England, but with a great deal 
of presence and, when she chose to exert it, consider- 
able personal charm. The Emperor she apparently 
loved less than her other children, especially her son, 
Grand Duke Michail, and the Empress I fear she 
loved not at all. To the children she was affectionate 
but a trifle distant. I am sure that she resented the 
fact that the first four children were girls, and there 
is little doubt that she felt bitterly the affliction of the 
heir. Possibly she felt in her secret heart that it should 
have been her own strong son Michail who was the 
acknowledged successor of Nicholas II. I say this 
from my own conjecture and observations and not from 
positive knowledge. Yet after events, I think, con- 
firmed my opinion. 

The Dowager Empress after the death of Alex- 
ander III relinquished with rather bad grace her po- 
sition of reigning Empress. In fact she never did re- 
linquish it altogether, always taking precedence on 
public occasions of Alexandra Feodorovna. Just why 
the Tsar consented to this I never knew, but certain 
it is that always, when the Imperial Family made a 
state entrance the Tsar appeared first with his mother 
on his arm, the Empress following on the arm of one 
of the Grand Dukes. Society generally approved this 
procedure, the Empress Mother enjoying all the popu- 
larity which the Empress lacked. There were actu- 


ally In Russia two Courts, a large one represented by 
society and the Grand Dukes, and a small one repre- 
sented by the intimate circle of the Emperor and Em- 
press. In the one everything done by the Empress 
Mother was right and by the shy and retiring Em- 
press wrong. In the small Court it was exactly the 
other way around, except that even in the palace a 
certain amount of petty intrigue always existed. 

The visit to Finnish waters by the Empress Mother 
in 19 1 2 was marred by no coldness or disharmony. 
When we went ashore for tennis the Emperor admon- 
ished us all to play as well as we could, "because 
Mama is coming." We lunched aboard her yacht and 
she dined with us on the Standert. On the 2 2d of 
July, which was her name day, as well as that of the 
little Grand Duchess Marie, she spent most of the 
day on the Emperor's yacht, and after luncheon I took 
a photograph of her sitting with her arm around the 
Emperor's shoulders, her two little Japanese spaniels 
at their feet. She made us dance for her on deck, 
photographing us as we danced. After tea the chil- 
dren performed for her a little French playlet which 
seemed to delight her. Yet that evening at dinner I 
could not help noticing how her fine eyes, so kind and 
smiling towards most of the company, clouded 
slightly whenever they were turned to the Emperor or 
the Empress. Still I must record that later, passing 
the open door of Alexei's cabin, I saw the Empress 
Mother sitting on the edge of the child's bed talking 
gaily and peeling an apple quite like any loving grand- 

I do not pretend to understand the Empress 


Dowager or her motives, but, as far as I can judge, 
her chief weakness was love of power. She carried 
her insistence on precedence so far that the chiffres of 
the maids of honor of both Empresses bore the initials 
M. A. instead of A. M., which was the proper order. 
She wanted to be first in everything and could not bear 
to abdicate either power or influence. She never, I 
believe, understood her son's preference for a quiet, 
family life, or the changed and softened manners he 
acquired under the influence of his wife. 


IN the autumn of 19 12 the family went to Skerne- 
vlzi, their Polish estate, in order to indulge the Em- 
peror's love for big-game hunting. In the vast forests 
surrounding the estate all kinds of game were pre- 
served and the sport of hunting there was said to be 
very exciting. During the war these woods and all 
the game were destroyed by the Germans, but until 
after 19 14 Skernevizi was a favorite retreat of the 
Emperor. I had returned to my house in Tsarskoe 
Selo but I was not allowed long to remain there. A 
telegram from the Empress conveyed the disquieting 
news that Alexei, in jumping into a boat, had injured 
himself and was now in a serious condition. The 
child had been removed from Skernevizi to Spala, a 
smaller Polish estate near Warsaw, and to Warsaw I 
accordingly traveled. Here I was met by one of the 
Imperial carriages and was driven to Spala. Driv- 
ing for nearly an hour through deep woods and over 
a heavy, sandy road I reached my destination, a small 
wooden house, something like a country inn, in which 
the suite was lodged. Two rooms had been set apart 
for me and my maid, and here I found Olga and 
Tatiana waiting to help me get settled. Their mother, 
they said, was expecting me, and without any loss of 
time I went with them to the palace. 

I found the Empress greatly agitated. The boy 



was temporarily improved but was still too delicate 
to be taken back to Tsarskoe Selo. Meanwhile the 
family lived in one of the dampest, gloomiest palaces 
I have ever seen. It was really a large wooden villa, 
very badly planned as far as light and sunshine were 
concerned. The large dining room on the ground floor 
was so dark that the electric lights had to be kept on 
all day. Upstairs to the right of a long corridor were 
the rooms of the Emperor and Empress, her sitting 
room in bright English chintzes being one of the few 
cheerful spots in the house. Here we usually spent 
our evenings. The bedrooms and dressing rooms were 
too dark for comfort, but the Emperor's study, also 
on the right of the corridor, was fairly bright. 

As long as the health of little Alexei continued 
fairly satisfactory the Emperor and his suite went stag 
hunting daily in the forests of the estate. Every eve- 
ning after dinner the slain stags were brought to the 
front of the palace and laid out for inspection on the 
grass. The huntsmen with their flaring torches and 
winding horns standing over the day's bag made, I 
was told, a very picturesque spectacle. The Emperor 
and his suite and most of the household used to en- 
joy going out after dinner to enjoy this fine sight. I 
never went myself, having a foolish love of animals 
which prevents enjoyment of the royal sport of hunt- 
ing. I even failed to appreciate, as the head of the 
estate, kind Count Velepolsky, thought I should, the 
many trophies of the chase with which the corridors 
and apartments of the palace were adorned. 

What I did enjoy was the beautiful park which sur- 
rounded the palace, and the rapid little river Pilitsa 


that flowed through it. There was one leafy path 
through which I often walked in the mornings with 
the Emperor. This was called the Road of Mush- 
rooms because it ended in a wonderful mushroom 
bench. The whole place was so remote and peaceful 
that I deeply sympathized with their Majesties' irrita- 
tion that even there they could never stir abroad 
without being haunted by the police guard. 

Although Alexei's illness was believed to have taken 
a favorable turn and he was even beginning to walk 
a little about the house and gardens, I found him pale 
and decidedly out of condition. He occasionally com- 
plained of pain, but the doctors were unable to dis- 
cover any actual injury. One day the Empress took 
the child for a drive and before we had gone very far 
we saw that indeed he was very ill. He cried out 
with pain in his back and stomach, and the Empress, 
terribly frightened, gave the order to return to the 
palace. That return drive stands out in my mind as 
an experience of horror. Every movement of the 
carriage, every rough place in the road, caused the 
child the most exquisite torture, and by the time we 
reached home he was almost unconscious with pain. 
The next weeks were endless torment to the boy and 
to all of us who had to listen to his constant cries of 
pain. For fully eleven days these dreadful sounds 
filled the corridors outside his room, and those of 
us who were obliged to approach had often to stop 
our ears with our hands in order to go about our 
duties. During the entire time the Empress never 
undressed, never went to bed, rarely even lay down for 
an hour's rest. Hour after hour she sat beside the 


bed where the half-conscious child lay huddled on one 
side, his left leg drawn up so sharply that for nearly a 
year afterwards he could not straighten it out. His 
face was absolutely bloodless, drawn and seamed with 
suffering, while his almost expressionless eyes rolled 
back in his head. Once when the Emperor came into 
the room, seeing his boy in this agony and hearing his 
faint screams of pain, the poor father's courage com- 
pletely gave way and he rushed, weeping bitterly, to 
his study. Both parents believed the child dying, and 
Alexei himself, in one of his rare moments of con- 
sciousness, said to his mother: "When I am dead 
build me a little monument of stones in the wood." 

The family's most trusted physicians. Dr. Rauch- 
fuss and Professor Fedoroff and his assistant Dr. 
Derevanko, were in charge of the case and after the 
first consultations declared the Tsarevitch's condition 
hopeless. The hemorrhage of the stomach from which 
he was suffering seemed liable to turn into an abscess 
which could at any moment prove fatal. We had two 
terrible moments in which this complication threat- 
ened. One day at luncheon a note was brought from 
the Empress to the Emperor who, pale but collected, 
made a sign for the physicians to leave the table. 
Alexei, the Empress had written, was suffering so ter- 
ribly that she feared the worst was about to happen. 
This crisis, however, was averted. On the second oc- 
casion, on an evening after dinner when we were sit- 
ting very quietly in the Empress's boudoir, Princess 
Henry of Prussia, who had come to be with her sister 
in her trouble, appeared in the doorway very white and 
agitated and begged the members of the suite to re- 


tire as the child's condition was desperate. At eleven 
o'clock the Emperor and Empress entered the room, 
despair written on their faces. Still the Empress de- 
clared that she could not believe that God had aban- 
doned them and she asked me to telegraph Raspu- 
tine for his prayers. His reply came quickly. "The 
little one will not die," it said. "Do not allow the 
doctors to bother him too much." As a matter of 
fact the turning point came a few days later, the pain 
subsided, and the boy lay wasted and utterly spent, 
but alive. 

Curiously enough there was no church on this Polish 
estate, but during the illness of the Tsarevitch a chapel 
was installed in a large green tent in the garden. A 
new confessor, Father Alexander, celebrated mass and 
after the first celebration he walked in solemn proces- 
sion from the altar to the sickroom bearing with him 
holy communion for the sick boy. The Emperor and 
Empress were very much impressed with Father Alex- 
ander and from that time on they retained him in their 
private chapel at Tsarskoe Selo, He was a good man 
but not a brave one, for when the Revolution came, 
and the Emperor and the Empress sent for him to 
come to them, he confessed himself afraid to go. 
Poor man! His caution, after all, did not save him. 
He was shot by the Bolsheviki a year or two after- 
wards, on what pretext I do not know. 

The convalescence of Alexei was slow and weari- 
some. His nurse, Marie Vechniakofif, had grown so 
hysterical with fatigue that she had to be relieved, 
while the Empress was so exhausted that she could 
hardly move from room to room. The young Grand 


Duchesses were tireless in their devotion to the poor 
invalid, as was also M. Gilliard, who read to him and 
diverted him hours on end. Gradually the distracted 
household assumed a more normal aspect. The Em- 
peror, in Cossack uniform, began once more to en- 
tertain the officers of his Varsovie Lancers, com- 
manded by a splendid soldier. General Mannerheim, 
of whom the world has heard much. As Alexei's 
health continued to improve there was even a little 
shooting, and a great deal of tennis which the girls, 
after their long confinement to the house, greatly en- 
joyed. All of us began to be happy again, but one day 
the Emperor called me into his study and showed me a 
telegram from his brother. Grand Duke Michail, in 
which the latter announced his morganatic marriage 
to the Countess Brassoff, of whom the Emperor 
strongly disapproved. It was not the marriage itself 
that so strongly disturbed the Emperor, but that 
Michail had solemnly given his word of honor that it 
would never take place. "He broke his word — his 
word of honor," the Emperor repeated again and 

Another blow which the Emperor received at this 
time was the suicide of Admiral Chagin, command- 
ant of the Standert and one of the closest friends of 
the family. The Admiral shot himself on account of 
an unhappy love affair, and deeply as the Emperor 
mourned his death he was even more indignant at the 
manner of it. Russians, I know, are inclined to mor- 
bidity, and suicide with them is not an uncommon 
thing. But Nicholas II always regarded it as an act 
of dishonor. "Running away from the field of battle," 


was his characterization of such an act, and when he 
heard of Chagin's suicide he gave way to a terrible 
mood of anger and grief. Speaking of both Michail 
and Chagin he said bitterly: "How, in the midst of 
the boy's illness and all our trouble, how could they 
have done such things?" The poor Emperor, to 
whom every failure of those he loved and trusted came 
as an utterly unexpected blow, how near was his hour 
of complete and final disillusionment of nearly all 
earthly loyalties. 

We had a few weeks of peaceful enjoyment before 
leaving Spala that autumn. The girls, bright and 
happy once more, rode every morning, the crisp air and 
the exercise coloring their cheeks and raising their 
spirits high. The Emperor tramped the woods, some- 
times with me as his companion, and on one of these 
outings we both had a narrow escape from drowning. 
The Emperor took me for a row on the river which, 
as I have said, had a very rapid currrent. Intent on 
keeping the boat well into the current, the Emperor 
ran us into a small island, and for a few seconds escape 
from an ignominious upset seemed impossible. I was 
ty ^roughly frightened, the Emperor not a little em- 
^d, and ardor for water sports was, for a time, 
r ^ened in both of us. 

ober 21 (Russian Calendar) we celebrated 
the accession to the throne with high mass and holy 
communion, and a few days later the doctors decided 
that Alexei was well enough to be moved to Tsarskoe 
Selo. The Imperial train was made ready and their 
Majesties decided that I was to travel on it with the 
rest of the suite. This was, as a matter of fact, con- 


trary to strict etiquette, and the announcement created 
among the ladies in waiting much consternation, not 
to say rancor. There is no question that being a regu- 
larly appointed lady in waiting to royalty and having 
nothing to do when a mere friend of the exalted one 
happens to be at hand is a bit irritating, so I cannot 
really blame the Empress's ladies for objecting to me 
as a traveling companion. The Imperial train, now 
used, one hears, by the inner circle of the Communists, 
was composed of a number of luxurious carriages, 
more like a home than a railway train. In the car- 
riage of the Emperor and Empress the easy chairs and 
sofas were upholstered in bright chintz and there 
were books, family photographs, and all sort of famil- 
iar trinkets. The emperor's study was in his favor- 
ite green leather, and adjoining their dressing rooms 
was a large and perfectly equipped bathroom. In this 
carriage also were rooms for the personal attendants 
of their Majesties. The Grand Duchesses and their 
maids had a similar carriage, and Alexei's carriage, 
which had compartments for the maids of honor and 
myself, was furnished with every imaginable comfort. 
The last carriage was the dining wagon with a small 
anteroom where the inevitable zakouski, the Russian 
table of hors d'oeuvres, was served. At the long din- 
ing table the Emperor sat with his daughters on either 
hand, while facing him were Count Fredericks and 
the ladies in waiting. Throughout the journey of 
nearly two days the Empress was served in her own 
room or beside the bed where Alexei lay, very weak, 
but bright and cheerful once more. 

This chapter may well close with one of the open- 


ing events of 19 13, the Jubilee of the Romanoffs, cele- 
brating the three hundredth anniversary of their 
reign. In February the Court moved from Tsarskoe 
Selo to the Winter Palace in Petrograd, a place they 
disliked because of the vast gloominess of the build- 
ing and the fact that the only garden was a tiny space 
hardly large enough for the children to play or to 
exercise in. On reaching Petrograd the family drove 
directly across the Neva to Christ's Chapel, the little 
church of Peter the Great, where is, or was, preserved 
a miraculous picture of the Christ, very old and highly 
revered. The public had not been notified that the 
Imperial Family would first visit this chapel, but their 
presence quickly became known and they drove back 
to the Winter Palace through excited, but on the 
whole undemonstrative, masses of people, a typical 
Petrograd crowd. 

The actual celebration of the Jubilee began with a 
solemn service in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, 
which everyone familiar with Petrograd remembers 
as one of the most beautiful of Russian churches. The 
vast building was packed to its utmost capacity, and 
that means a much larger crowd than in ordinary 
churches, since in Russia the congregation stands or 
kneels through the entire service. From my position 
I had a very good view of both the Emperor and the 
Tsarevitch, and I was puzzled to see them raise their 
heads and gaze long at the ceiling, but afterwards they 
told me that two doves had appeared and had floated 
for several minutes over their heads. In the religious 
exaltation of the hour this appeared to the Emperor 
a symbol that the blessing of God, after three cen- 


1913 JUBILEE. 




turies, continued to rest on the House of Romanoff. 
There followed a long series of functions at the 
palace, with deputations coming from all over the 
Empire, the women appearing at receptions and din- 
ners in the beautiful national dress, which were also 
worn by the Empress and her daughters. The Em- 
press, for all her weariness, was regal in her richly 
flowing robes and long-veiled, high kokoshnik, the 
Russian national headdress, set with magnificent 
jewels. She also wore the wide-ribboned order of St. 
Andrew, which was her sole privilege to wear, and at 
the most formal of the state dinners she wore the most 
splendid of all the crown jewels. The young Grand 
Duchesses were simply but beautifully gowned on all 
occasions, and they wore the order of Catherine the 
Great, red ribbons with blazing diamond stars. The 
crowds were enormous in all the great state rooms, 
the Imperial Family standing for hours while the mul- 
titudes filed past with sweeping curtsies and low bows. 
So long and fatiguing were these ceremonies that at 
the end the Empress was literally too fatigued to force 
a smile. Poor little Alexei also, after being carried 
through the rooms and obliged to acknowledge a thou- 
sand greetings, was taken back to his room in a con- 
dition of utter exhaustion. 

There were state performances at the theater and 
the opera. Glinka's "Life for the Tsar" being sung 
to the usual tumult of applause and adulation, but for 
all that I felt that there was in the brilliant audience 
little real enthusiasm, little real loyalty. I saw a 
cloud over the whole celebration in Petrograd, and 
this impression, I am almost sure, was shared by the 


Empress. She told me that she could never feel happy 
in Petrograd. Everything in the Winter Palace re- 
minded her of earlier years when she and her husband 
used to go happily to the theater together and return- 
ing would have supper in their dressing gowns before 
the fire talking over the events of the day and eve- 
ning. "I was so happy then," she said plaintively, 
"so well and strong. Now I am a wreck." 

Much as both she and the Emperor desired to 
shorten their stay in Petrograd, they were obliged to 
remain several weeks after the close of the official cele- 
bration because Tatiana, who unwisely had drunk the 
infected water of the capital, fell ill of typhoid and 
could not for some time be moved. With her lovely 
brown hair cut short, we finally went back to Tsarskoe 
Selo, where she made good progress back to health. 

In the spring began the celebration of the Jubilee 
throughout the Empire. The visit to the Volga, espe- 
cially to Kostrama, the home of the first Romanoff 
monarch, Michail Feodorovnitch, was a magnificent 
success, the people actually wading waist deep in the 
river in order to get nearer the Imperial boat. It was 
the same through all the surrounding governments, 
crowds, cheers, acclamations, prayers, and great cho- 
ruses singing the national hymn, '^very evidence of love 
and loyalty. I particularly remember when the cor- 
tege reached the town of Pereyaslovl, in the Vladimir 
Government, because it was from there that my father's 
family originated, and some of his relatives took part 
in the day's celebration. The Empress, to my regret, 
was not present, being confined to her bed on the Im- 
perial train, ill and fatigued, yet under obligation to 


be ready for special ceremonies in Moscow. It would 
need a more eloquent pen than mine adequately to de- 
scribe those days in Moscow, the Holy City of Russia. 
The weather was perfect, and under the clear sun- 
shine the floating flags and banners, the flower-trimmed 
buildings, and the numberless decorations made up 
a spectacle of unforgettable beauty. Leaving his car 
at some distance from the Kremlin, the Emperor en- 
tered the great gate on foot, preceded by chanting 
priests with waving censers and holy images. Behind 
the Emperor and his suite came the Empress and 
Alexei in an open car through crowds that pressed 
hard against the police lines, while overhead all the 
bells of Moscow pealed welcome to the Sovereigns. 
Every day it was the same, demonstrations of love and 
fealty it seemed that no time or circumstance could 
ever alter. 


NINETEEN-FOURTEEN, that year of fate for 
all the world, but more than all for my poor 
country, began its course in Russia, as elsewhere, in 
apparent peace and tranquillity. With us, as with 
other civilized people, the tragedy of Sarajevo came 
as a thrill of horror and surmise. I do not know ex- 
actly what we expected to follow that desperate act 
committed in a distant province of Austria, but cer- 
tainly not the cataclysm of a World War and the ruin 
of three of the proudest empires of earth. Very 
shortly after the assassination of the Austrian heir and 
his wife the Emperor had gone to Kronstadt, head- 
quarters of the Baltic fleet, to meet French and British 
squadrons then on cruise in Russian waters.^ From 
Kronstadt he proceeded to Krasnoe, near Petrograd, 
the great summer central review center of the old 
Russian Army where the usual military maneuvers 
were in progress. Returning to Peterhof, the Em- 
peror ordered a hasty departure to Finland because, 
he said, the political horizon was darkening and he 

^ So little did any of the Allied rulers and statesmen anticipate the 
World War that in July, 1914, President Poincare accompanied the 
French fleet on its cruise to the Baltic. Many festivities were ar- 
ranged for him, and he was regally entertained by the Emperor. 
When receiving the ambassadors President Poincare spoke gravely 
of the troubled political situation, but he said nothing to indicate that 
he expected war. 



needed a few days of rest and distraction. We sailed 
on July 6 (Russian Calendar) and had a quiet cruise, 
the last one we were ever destined to enjoy. Not that 
we intended it to be our last, for returning to Peter- 
hof, from whence the Emperor hurried again to the 
reviews, we left nearly all our luggage on the yacht. 
The Empress, however, in one of her fits of melan- 
choly, told me that she felt that we would never again 
be together on the Standert. 

The political skies were Indeed darkening. The 
Serbian murders and the unaccountably arrogant at- 
titude of Austria grew in importance every succeeding 
day, and for many hours every day the Emperor was 
closeted in his study with Grand Duke Nicholas, For- 
eign Minister Sazonoff and other Ministers, all of 
whom urged on the Emperor the imperative duty of 
standing by Serbia. During the short intervals of the 
day when we saw the Emperor he seemed half dazed 
by the momentous decision he was called upon to make. 
A few days before mobilization I went to lunch at 
Krasnoe with a friend whose husband was on the Rus- 
sian General Staff. In the middle of luncheon this 
officer, Count Nosstiz, burst into the room exclaiming: 
"Do you know what the Emperor has done? Can you 
guess what they have made him do ? He has promoted 
the young men of the Military Academy to be officers, 
and he has sent the regiments back to their casernes 
to await orders. All the military attaches are tele- 
graphing their Governments to ask what it means. 
What can it mean except war?" 

From my friend's house I went almost at once back 
to Peterhof and Informed the Empress what I had 


heard. Her amazement was unbounded, and over and 
over she repeated that she did not understand, that 
she could not imagine under what influence the Em- 
peror had acted. He was still at the maneuvers, and 
although I remained late with the Empress I did not 
see him that night. The days that followed were full 
of suspense and anxiety. I spent most of my time 
playing tennis — very badly — with the girls, but from 
my occasional contacts with the Empress I knew that 
she was arguing and pleading against the war which 
apparently the Emperor felt to be inevitable. In one 
short talk I had with him on the subject he seemed to 
find a certain comfort in the thought that war always 
strengthened national feeling, and in his belief Russia 
would emerge from a truly righteous war stronger and 
better than ever. At this time a telegram arrived 
from Rasputine in Siberia, which plainly irritated the 
Emperor. Rasputine strongly opposed the war, and 
predicted that it would result in the destruction of the 
Empire. But the Emperor refused to believe it and 
resented what was really an almost unprecedented in- 
terference in affairs of state on the part of Rasputine. 
I think I have spoken of the Emperor's aversion to 
the telephone. Up to this time none of his studies 
were ever fitted with telephones, but now he had wires 
and instruments installed and spent a great deal of 
time in conversations with Ministers and members of 
the military staff. Then came the day of mobilization, 
the same kind of a day of wild excitement, waving 
street crowds, weeping women and children, heart- 
rending scenes of parting, that all the warring coun- 
tries saw and ever will remember. After watching 


hours of these dreadful scenes in the streets of Peter- 
hof I went to my evening duties with the Empress only 
to find that she had remained in absolute ignorance 
of what had been taking place. Mobilization I It was 
not true, she exclaimed. Certainly armies were mov- 
ing, but only on the Austrian frontiers. She hurried 
from the room and I heard her enter the Emperor's 
study. For half an hour the sound of their excited 
voices reached my ears. Returning, the Empress 
dropped on her couch as one overcome by desperate 
tidings. "War!" She murmured breathlessly. "And 
I knew nothing of it. This is the end of everything." 
I could say nothing. I understood as little as she the 
incomprehensible silence of the Emperor at such an 
hour, and as always, whatever hurt her hurt me. We 
sat in silence until eleven when, as usual, the Emperor 
came in to tea, but he was distraught and gloomy and 
the tea hour also passed in almost complete silence. 

The whole world has read the telegrams sent to 
Nicholas II by ex-Emperor William in those beginning 
days of the war. Their purport seemed to be sincere 
and intimate, begging his old friend and relative to 
stop mobilization, offering to meet the Emperor for 
a conference which yet might keep the peace. His- 
torians of the future will have to decide whether those 
tenders were made in good faith or whether they were 
part of the sinister diplomacy of that wicked war. 
Nicholas II did not believe in their good faith, for he 
replied that he had no right to stop mobilization in 
Russia when German mobilization was already a mat- 
ter of fact and that at any hour his frontiers might 
be crossed by German troops. After this interval 


the Emperor seemed to be in better spirits. War 
had come indeed, but even war was better than the 
threat and the uncertainty of the preceding weeks. 
The extreme depression of the Empress, however, con- 
tinued unrelieved. Up to the last moment she hoped 
against hope, and when the German formal declaration 
of war was announced she gave way to a perfect 
passion of weeping, repeating to me through her tears : 
"This is the end of everything." The state visit of 
their Majesties to Petrograd soon after the declara- 
tion really seemed to justify the Emperor's belief that 
the war would arouse the national spirit, so long latent, 
in the Russian people. Never again do I expect to 
behold such a sight as the streets of Petrograd pre- 
sented on that day. To say that the streets were 
crowded, thronged, massed, does not half express it. 
I do not believe that one single able-bodied person in 
the whole city remained at home during the hours spent 
in the capital by the Sovereigns. The streets were al- 
most literally impassable, and the Imperial motor 
cars, moving at snail's pace from quay to palace 
through that frenzied sea of people, cheering, sing- 
ing the national hymn, calling down blessings on the 
Emperor, was something that will live forever in the 
memories of all who witnessed it. The Imperial 
cortege was able, thanks to the police, to reach the 
Winter Palace at last, but many of the suite were 
halted by the crowds at the entrance to the great square 
in front of the palace and had to enter at a side door 
opening from the small garden to the west. 

Inside the palace the crowd was relatively as great 
as that on the outside. Apparently every man and 


woman who had the right to appear at Court were 
massed in the corridors, the staircases, and the state 
apartments. Slowly their Majesties made their way 
to the great Salle de Nicholas, the largest hall in the 
palace, and there for several hours they stood receiv- 
ing the most extraordinary tokens of homage from 
thousands of officials, ministers, and members of the 
noblesse, both men and women. Te Deums were sung, 
cheers and acclamations arose, and as the Emperor 
and Empress moved slowly through the crowds men 
and women threw themselves on their knees, kissing 
the hands of their Sovereigns with tears and fervent 
expressions of loyalty. Standing with others of the 
suite in the Halle de Concert, I watched this remark- 
able scene, and I listened to the historic speech of the 
Emperor which ended with the assurance that never 
would there be an end to Russian military effort until 
the last German was expelled from the beloved soil. 
From the Salle de Nicholas the Sovereigns passed to a 
balcony overlooking the great square. There with the 
Tsarevitch at their side they faced the wildly exulting 
people v/ho with one accord dropped to their knees 
with mute gestures of love and obedience. Then as 
countless flags waved and dipped there arose from 
the lips and hearts of that vast assembly the moving 
strains of our great hymn: "God Save the Tsar." 

Thus in a passion of renewed love and patriotism 
began in Russia the war of 1914- That same day the 
family returned to Peterhof, the Emperor almost im- 
mediately leaving for the casernes to bid farewell to 
regiments leaving for the front. As for the Empress, 
she became overnight a changed being. Every bodily 


ill and weakness forgotten, she began at once an ex- 
tensive plan for a system of hospitals and sanitary 
trains for the dreadful roll of wounded which she knew 
must begin with the first battle. Her projected chain 
of hospitals and sanitary centers reached from Petro- 
grad and Moscow to Charkoff and Odessa in the ex- 
treme south of Russia. The center of her personal 
activity was fixed in a large group of evacuation hos- 
pitals in and around Tsarskoe Selo, and there, after 
bidding farewell to my only brother, who immediately 
left for the southern front, I joined the Empress. 
Already her plans were so far matured that ten sani- 
tary trains, bearing her name and the children's, were 
in active service, and something like eighty-five hos- 
pitals were open, or preparing to open, in Tsarskoe 
Selo, Peterhof, Pavlovsk, Louga, Sablino, and neigh- 
boring towns. The Empress, her two older daughters, 
and myself immediately enrolled under a competent 
woman surgeon. Dr. Gedroiz, as student nurses, spend- 
ing two hours of every afternoon under theoretical in- 
struction, and the entire hours of the morning in ward 
work in the hospitals. For the benefit of those who 
imagine that the work of a royal nurse is more or less 
in the nature of play I will describe the average routine 
of one of those mornings in which I was privileged 
to assist the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the 
Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, the two last- 
named girls of nineteen and seventeen. Please re- 
member that we were then only nurses in training. 
Arriving at the hospital shortly after nine in the morn- 
ing we went directly to the receiving wards where the 
men were brought in after having first-aid treatment in 


the trenches and field hospitals. They had traveled 
far and were usually disgustingly dirty as well as blood- 
stained and suffering. Our hands scrubbed in anti- 
septic solutions we began the work of washing, clean- 
ing, and bandaging maimed bodies, mangled faces, 
blinded eyes, all the indescribable mutilations of what 
is called civilized warfare. These we did under the 
orders and the direction of trained nurses who had the 
skill to do the things our lack of experience prevented 
us from doing. As we became accustomed to the work, 
and as both the Empress and Tatiana had extraordi- 
nary ability as nurses, we were given more important 
work. I speak of the Empress and Tatiana especially 
because Olga within two months was almost too ex- 
hausted and too unnerved to continue, and my abilities 
proved to be more in the executive and organizing than 
in the nursing end of hospital work. I have seen the 
Empress of Russia in the operating room of a hospital 
holding ether cones, handling sterilized Instruments, 
assisting in the most difficult operations, taking from 
the hands of the busy surgeons amputated legs and 
arms, removing bloody and even vermin-infected dress- 
ings, enduring all the sights and smells and agonies of 
that most dreadful of all places, a military hospital 
in the midst of war. She did her work with the hu- 
mility and the gentle tirelessness of one dedicated by 
God to a life of ministration. Tatiana was almost as 
skinful and quite as devoted as her mother, and 
complained only that on account of her youth she was 
spared some of the more trying cases. The Empress 
was spared nothing, nor did she wish to be. I think 
I never saw her happier than on the day, at the end of 


our two months' intensive training, she marched at the 
head of the procession of nurses to receive the red 
cross and the diploma of a certificated war nurse. 

From that time on our days were literally devoted 
to toil. We rose at seven in the morning and very 
often it was an hour or two after midnight before we 
sought our beds. The Empress, after a morning in 
the operating room of one hospital, snatched a hasty 
luncheon and spent the rest of the day in a round of 
inspection of other hospitals. Every morning early 
I met her in the little Church of Our Lady of 
Znamenie, where we went for prayers, driving after- 
wards to the hospitals. On the days when the sanitary 
trains arrived with their ghastly loads of wounded we 
often worked from nine until three without stopping 
for food or rest. The Empress literally shirked noth- 
ing. Sometimes when an unfortunate soldier was told 
by the surgeons that he must suffer an amputation or 
undergo an operation which might be fatal, he turned 
in his bed calling out her name in anguished appeal. 
"Tsaritsa ! Stand near me. Hold my hand that I 
may have courage." Were the man an officer or a 
simple peasant boy she always answered the appeal. 
With her arm under his head she would speak words 
of comfort and encouragement, praying with him while 
preparations for the operation were in progress, her 
own hands assisting in the merciful work of anesthesia. 
The men idolized her, watched for her coming, 
reached out bandaged hands to touch her as she 
passed, smiling happily as she bent over their pillows. 
Even the dying smiled as she knelt beside their beds 
murmuring last words of prayer and consolation. 


In the last days of November, 19 14, the Empress 
left Tsarskoe Selo for an informal Inspection of hos- 
pitals within the radius of her especially chosen dis- 
trict. Dressed in the gray uniform of a nursing sister, 
accompanied by her older daughters, myself, and a 
small suite, she went to towns surrounding Tsarskoe 
Selo and southward as far as Pskoff, staff headquarters, 
where the younger Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna 
was a hospital nurse. From there she proceeded to 
Vllna, Kovno, and Grodno, in which city she met the 
Emperor and with him went on to Dvlnsk. The en- 
thusiasm and affection with which the Empress was 
met in all these places and in stations along the route 
beggars description. A hundred incidents of the 
journey crowd my memory, each one worth the tell- 
ing had I space to include them in this narrative, I 
remember, for example, the remarkable scene in the 
big fortress of Kovno, where acres of hospital beds 
were assembled and where the tall figure of the Em- 
press, moving through those interminable aisles, was 
greeted like the visit of an angel. I never recall that 
journey without remembering the hospital at Grodno, 
where a gallant young officer lay dying of his wounds. 
Hearing that the Empress was on her way to the hos- 
pital, he rallied unexpectedly and declared to his nurses 
that he was determined to live until she came. Sheer 
will power kept life in the man's body until the Em- 
press arrived, and when, at the door of the hospital, 
she was told of his dying wish to see her she hurried 
first to his bedside, kneeling beside it and receiving 
his last smile, his last gasping words of greeting and 


After one very fatiguing day our train passed a 
sanitary train of the Union of Zemstvos moving south. 
The Empress, who should have been resting in bed at 
the time, ordered her train stopped that she might 
visit, to the surprise and delight of the doctors, this 
splendidly equipped rolling hospital. Another surprise 
visit was to the estate of Prince Tichkevitch, whose 
family supported on their own lands a very efficient 
hospital unit. It was impossible to avoid noticing 
how in the towns visited by the Empress, dressed as 
a simple sister of mercy, the love of the people was 
most manifest. In Grodno, Dvinsk, and other cities 
where she appeared with the Emperor there was plenty 
of enthusiasm, but on those occasions etiquette obliged 
her to lay aside her uniform and to dress as the wife 
of the Emperor. Much better the people loved her 
when she went among them in her nurse's dress, their 
devoted friend and sister. Etiquette forgotten, they 
crowded around her, talked to her freely, claimed her 
as their own. 

Soon after returning from this visit of inspection the 
Empress accompanied by Grand Duchesses Olga and 
Tatiana, General Racine, Commander of the Palace 
Guards, a maid of honor and myself, set off on a 
journey to Moscow, where to my extreme sorrow and 
dismay I perceived for the first time unmistakable evi- 
dences of a spreading intrigue against the Imperial 
Family. At the station in Moscow the Empress was 
met by her sister, the Grand Duchess Serge and the 
latter's intimate friend and the executive of her con- 
vent, Mme. Gardieve. Welcome from the people 
there was none, as General Djounkovsky, Governor of 


Moscow, had announced, without any authority what- 
soever, that the Empress was In the city incognito 
and did not wish to meet anyone. In consequence of 
this order we drove to the Kremlin through almost 
empty streets. Nevertheless the Empress began at 
once the inspection of hospitals, accompanied by Gen- 
eral Racine and her maid of honor, Baroness Bouk- 
shoevden, daughter of the Russian Ambassador in 
Denmark. During our stay in Moscow I was not as 
constantly with the Empress as usual, our rooms in 
the Kremlin being far apart. However, General 
Odoevsky, the fine old Governor of the Kremlin, in- 
stalled a telephone between our rooms, and on her free 
evenings the Empress often summoned me to sit with 
her in her dressing room, hung with light blue drap- 
eries and looking out over the river and the ancient 
roofs of Moscow. I lunched and dined with others 
of the suite in an old part of the immense palace 
known as the Granovita Palata, and here occurred 
one night a disagreeable scene in which General Ra- 
cine, in the presence of the whole company, admin- 
istered a stinging rebuke to General Djounkovsky, 
Governor of Moscow, for his responsibility for the 
cold welcome accorded her Majesty. The Governor 
turned very pale but made no answer to the accusa- 
tion of General Racine. Already my mind was in a 
tumult of trouble, more and more conscious of the 
atmosphere of intrigue, plots, and conspiracies, the 
end of which I could not see. In the coldness of 
the Grand Duchess Serge, in my childhood such a 
friend to me and to my family, her chilly refusal to 
listen to her sister's denial of preposterous tales of 


the political Influence exerted by Rasputlne, by the 
general animosity towards myself, I began dimly to 
realize that there was a plot to strike at her Majesty 
through Rasputlne and myself. There was absolutely 
nothing I could do, and I had to watch with tearless 
grief the breach between the sisters grow wider and 
deeper until their association was robbed of most of 
its old intimacy. I knew well enough, or I was con- 
vinced that I knew, that the dismissed maid of honor. 
Mile, Tutcheff, was at the bottom of the whole affair, 
her family being among the most prominent in Mos- 
cow. But I could say nothing, do nothing. 

With great relief we saw our train leave Moscow 
for a round of visits in surrounding territory, and here 
again the enthusiasm with which the people welcomed 
the Empress was unbounded. In the town of Toula, 
for example, and a little farther on in Orel, the people 
were so tumultuous in their greeting, they crowded 
so closely around their adored Empress, that our party 
could scarcely make our way to church and hospital. 
Once, following the Empress out of a church, carrying 
in my hands an ikon which had been presented to her, 
I was fairly overthrown by the crowding multitude 
and fell halfway down the high flight of steps before 
friendly hands could get me to my feet. I did not mind 
this, being only too rejoiced at evidences of love and 
devotion which the simple people of Russia felt for 
their Empress. In one town where there were no 
modern carriages she was dragged along In an old 
coach of state such as a medieval bishop might have 
used, the coach being quite covered with flowers and 
branches. In the town of Charkoff hundreds of stu- 


dents met the train bearing aloft portraits of her 
Majesty. In the small town of Belgorod, where the 
Empress wished to stop in order to visit a very sacred 
monastery, I shall never forget the joy with which 
the sleepy ischvostiks hurried through the darkness of 
the night to drive us the three or four versts from the 
railway to the monastery. Nor can I forget the ar- 
rival at the monastery, the sudden flare of lights as 
the monks hastened out to meet and greet their Sov- 
ereign Empress. These were the people, the plain 
people of Russia, and the difference between them and 
the plotting officials we had left behind in Moscow 
was a sad and a terrible contrast. 

On December 6 (Russian Calendar), the birthday 
of the Emperor, we met his train at Voronezh, where 
our parties joined in visits to Tambov, Riasan, and 
other towns where the people gave their Majesties 
wonderful greetings. In Tambov the Emperor and 
Empress visited and had tea with a charming woman 
of advanced age, Mme. Alexandra Narishkin, friend 
of Alexander III and of many distinguished men of her 
time. Mme. Narishkin, horrible to relate, was after- 
wards murdered by the Bolsheviki, neither her liberal 
mind nor her long services to her country, and es- 
pecially to her humble friends in Tambov, sparing her 
from the blood lust of the destroyers of Russia. 

The journey of their Majesties terminated at Mos- 
cow, where the younger children of the family awaited 
them. I can still see the slim, erect figure of Alexei 
standing at salute on the station platform, and the 
rosy, eager faces of Marie and Anastasie welcoming 
their parents after their long separation. The united 


family drove to the Kremlin, this time not quite so 
inhospitably received. In the days following the Mos- 
cow hospitals and military organizations were visited 
in turn, and we included in these visits out of town ac- 
tivities of the Moscow Zemstvo (county council), can- 
teens, etc. In one of these centers our host was Prince 
Lvoff, afterwards active in demanding the abdication 
of the Tsar, and I remember with what deference he 
received their Majesties, and the especial attention he 
paid to the Tsarevitch, whose autograph he begged 
for the visitors' book. Before we left Moscow the 
Empress paid two visits, one to the old Countess 
Apraxin, sister of the former first lady in waiting. 
Princess Galatzine and, with the Emperor, to the Met- 
ropolitan Makari, a good man, but mercilessly perse- 
cuted during the Revolution. 

There was one small but significant incident which 
happened after our return to Tsarskoe Selo, near the 
end of the year 19 14. It failed of its intended effect, 
but had it not failed it might have had a far-reaching 
influence on world events at that time. Looking back 
on it now, I sometimes wonder exactly what lay back 
of the plot, and who was responsible for its inception. 
One evening late in the year I received a visit from 
two war nurses lately released from a German prison 
where they had been taken with a portion of a captured 
Russian regiment. In much perturbation of spirit 
these nurses told me of a third nurse who had been 
captured and imprisoned with them. This woman they 
had come to distrust as she had been accorded many 
special favors by the Germans. She had been given 
good food and even champagne, and when the nurses 


were released she alone was conveyed to the frontier 
in a motor car, the others going on foot. While In 
prison this woman had boasted that she expected to 
be received by the Emperor, to whom she proposed to 
present the flag of the captured regiment. The other 
nurses declared that in their opinion his Majesty 
should be warned of the woman's dubious character. 
Hardly knowing what to think of such an extraor- 
dinary story, I thought it my duty to lay the matter 
before General Voyeikoff, Chief Commander of the 
Palace Guards, and when I learned from him that 
the Emperor had consented to receive the nurse I 
begged that the woman be investigated before being 
allowed to enter the palace. The Emperor showed 
some vexation, but he consented. When General 
Voyeikoff examined the woman she made a display of 
great frankness, handing him a revolver which she 
said it had been necessary for her to carry at the 
front. General Voyeikoff, thinking it strange that the 
weapon had not been taken away from her by the 
Germans, immediately ordered a search of her effects. 
In the handbag which she would certainly have carried 
with her to the palace were found two more loaded 
revolvers. The woman was, of course, arrested, and 
although I cannot explain why, her arrest caused great 
indignation among certain members of the aristocracy 
who previously had received her at their homes. The 
whole onus of her arrest was placed on me, although 
the Emperor declared his belief that she was a Ger- 
man spy sent to assassinate him. That she was a spy 
I have never doubted, but in my own mind I have never 
even tried to guess from whence she came. 


AVERY few days after the events chronicled in 
the last chapter I became the victim of a railroad 
accident which brought me to the threshold of death 
and for many months made it impossible for me to 
follow the events of the war, or the growing con- 
spiracy against the Sovereigns. At a little past five 
o'clock of the afternoon of January 2, 19 15, I took 
the train at Tsarskoe for a short visit to my parents 
in Petrograd. With me in my carriage was Mme. 
Shiff, a sister of a distinguished officer of Cuirassiers. 
We sat talking the usual commonplaces of travel when 
suddenly, without a moment's notice, there came a 
tremendous shock and a deafening crash, and I felt 
myself thrown violently forward, my head towards 
the roof of the carriage, and both legs held as in a 
vise in the coils of the steam-heating apparatus. The 
overturned carriage lurched and broke in two like an 
eggshell and I felt the bones of my left leg snap 
sharply. So intense was the pain that I momentarily 
lost consciousness. Too soon my senses returned to 
me and I found myself firmly wedged in the wreck- 
age of wood and iron, a great bar of steel crushing my 
face, and my mouth so choked with blood that I could 
not utter a sound. All I could do in my agony was 
silently to pray that God would give me the relief of 



a quick death, for I could not believe that any human 
being could endure such pain and live. 

After what seemed to me an interminable length 
of time I felt the pressure on my face removed and a 
kind voice asked: "Who lies here?" As I managed 
to breathe my name the rescuers exclaimed in aston- 
ishment and alarm, and immediately began to endeavor 
to extricate me from my agonizing position. By means 
of ropes passed under my arms and using great care 
and gentleness they ultimately got me free and laid me 
on the grass. In a moment's flash I recognized one 
as a Cossack of the Emperor's special guard, an ex- 
cellent man named Lichatchieff, and the other as a 
soldier of the railway battalion. Then I fainted. 
Ripping loose one of the doors of the railway car- 
riage, the men placed me on It and carried me to a 
near-by hut already crowded with wounded and dying. 
Regaining consciousness for a moment, I begged in 
whispers that Lichatchieff would telephone my parents 
in Petrograd and their Majesties at the palace. This 
the good fellow did without delay, and he also brought 
to my corner one of the surgeons summoned to the 
wreck. The man gave me a rapid examination and 
said briefly: "Do not disturb her. She is dying." 
He left to attend to more hopeful cases, but the faith- 
ful soldiers still knelt beside me, straightening my 
crushed and broken legs and wiping the blood from my 
lips. In about two hours another doctor, this time the 
surgeon Gedroiz, under whom the Empress, her 
daughters, and myself had taken our nurses' training, 
approached the corner where I lay. I looked with a 
kind of terror into the face of this woman, for I knew 


her to be no friend of mine. Simply giving my 
wounded head a superficial examination she said care- 
lessly that I was a hopeless case, and left me without 
the slightest attempt to soothe my pain. Not until 
ten o'clock that night, four hours after the collision 
which had wrecked two trains, did any help reach me. 
At that hour arrived General Racine from the palace 
with orders from their Majesties to do everything pos- 
sible in my behalf. At his imperative commands! I 
was again placed on a stretcher and carried to a relief 
train made up of cattle cars. At the moment m.y poor 
father and mother arrived from Petrograd and the 
last things I remember were their sobs and a teaspoon- 
ful of brandy mercifully poured down my throat. 

At the end of the journey to Tsarskoe Selo I dimly 
recognized the Empress and the four Grand Duch- 
esses who had come to the station to meet the train. 
Their faces were full of sympathy and grief, and as 
they bent over me I found strength to whisper to them : 
"I am dying." I believed it because the doctors had 
said so, and because my pain was so great. Then came 
the ordeal of being lifted into the ambulance and the 
half-consciousness that the Empress was there too, 
holding my head on her knees and begging me to have 
courage. After that came an interval of darkness out 
of which I awoke in bed and almost free from pain. 
The Empress who, with my parents, remained near 
me, asked me if I would like to see the Emperor. Of 
course I replied that I would, and when he came I 
pressed the hand he gave me. Dr. Gedroiz, who was 
in charge of the ward, told everyone coldly to take 
leave of me as I could not possibly live until morning. 



"Is it so hopeless?" asked the Emperor. "She still 
has some strength in her hand." 

Later on, I do not know exactly when, I opened my 
eyes quite clearly, and saw standing beside my bed 
the tall, gaunt form of Rasputine. He looked at me 
fixedly and said in a calm voice: "She will live, but 
will always be a cripple." A prediction which was 
literally fulfilled, for to this day I can walk only slowly 
and with the aid of a stout stick. I have been told 
that Rasputine recalled me from unconsciousness, but 
of his words I know only what I have recorded. 

The next morning I was operated on and for the 
six weeks following I suppose I suffered as greatly as 
one can and live. My left leg which had sustained 
a double fracture, troubled me less than my back and 
my right leg which had been horribly wrenched and 
lacerated. My head wounds were also intensely pain- 
ful and for a time I suffered from inflammation of the 
brain. My parents, the Empress, and the children 
came every day to see me, but despite their presence 
the neglect and unkindness of Dr. Gedroiz continued. 
The suggestion of the Empress that her trusted 
physician. Dr. Federoff, be brought into consultation 
was rudely repulsed by this woman, of whom I may 
finally say that she is now in high favor with the 
Bolsheviki whose ranks she joined in the autumn of 
19 17. Waited upon by none but the most inex- 
perienced nurses, I do not know what might have be- 
come of me had not my mother brought to the hospital 
an old family nurse whom she absolutely insisted 
should take charge of me. Things went a little better 
after this, but happy was I when at the end of the sixth 


week, against the will of Dr. Gedroiz, I left that 
wretched hospital and was removed to my own home. 
There in the peace and security of my comfortable bed- 
room I enjoyed for the first time since my accident 
quiet and refreshing sleep. 

It seems strange that the hostile and envious Court 
circle had deeply resented the daily visits of the Em- 
peror and Empress to my bedside. To placate the 
gossipers the Emperor, before visiting me, used to 
make the rounds of all the wards. In spite of it all 
I had many visitors and many daily inquiries from 
the Empress Dowager and others. Very soon after 
my arrival home I was examined by skillful surgeons, 
among them Drs. Federoff and Gagentorn, who pro- 
nounced my crushed right leg to be in a very bad con- 
dition and placed it in a plaster cast, where it remained 
for two months. The Empress visited me daily, but 
the Emperor I seldom saw because, as I learned in- 
directly, the War was going very badly on the Russian 
front, and the Emperor was almost constantly with 
the armies. In the last week before Lent he came 
to my bedside with the Empress, in accordance with an 
old Russian custom, before confession, to beg my for- 
giveness for possible wrongs done me during the year 
past. Their pious humility and also the white and 
careworn face of the Emperor filled me with emotion 
which later events served only to increase, for very 
momentous and trying hours were even then crowding 
the destiny of Nicholas II, Tsar of all the Russias. 

A soldier of the sanitary corps, a man named Jouk, 
had been assigned to duty at my house, and as soon as 
I was able to leave my bed he took me daily in a 


wheeled chair to church, and to the palace. This was 
the summer of 1915, a time of great tribulation for 
the Russian Army, as every student of the World War 
is aware. Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaievitch was 
pursuing a policy which rightly disturbed the Emperor, 
who constantly complained that the commander in 
chief of his armies sent the men forward without 
proper ammunition, without artillery support, and with 
no adequate preparations for safe retreat. Disaster 
after disaster confirmed the Emperor's fears. For- 
tress after fortress fell to the Germans. Kovno fell. 
Novogeorgiesk fell, and finally Warsaw itself fell. It 
was a terrible day when the Emperor, white and 
trembling, brought this news to the Empress as we 
sat at tea on her balcony in the warm autumn air. The 
Emperor was fairly overcome with grief and humilia- 
tion as he finished his tale. "It cannot go on any 
longer like this," he exclaimed bitterly, and then he 
went on to declare that in spite of ministerial oppo- 
sition he was determined to take personal command 
of the army himself. Only that day Krivosheim, Min- 
ister of Agriculture, had addressed him on the im- 
possible condition of Russian internal affairs. 
Nicholai Nicholaievitch, not content with military su- 
premacy, had assumed almost complete authority over 
all the business of the Empire. There were in fact 
two governments in Russia, orders being constantly 
issued from military headquarters without the knowl- 
edge, much less the consent, of the Emperor. 

Very soon after the fall of Warsaw it became clear 
to the Emperor that if he were to retain any dignity 
whatever he would have to depose Nicholai Nicholaie- 


vitch, and I wish here to state, without any reservation 
whatever, that this decision was reached by the Em- 
peror without advice from Rasputine, myself, or any 
other person. Even the Empress, although she ap- 
proved her husband's resolution, had no part in form- 
ing it. M. Gilliard has written that the Emperor 
was forced to his action by bad advisers, especially 
the Empress and Rasputine, but in this he is abso- 
lutely mistaken. M. Gilliard writes that the Emperor 
was told that Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaievitch 
was plotting to confine his Sovereign in a monastery. 
I do not believe for a moment that Rasputine ever 
made such a statement, but he did, in my presence, 
warn the Emperor to watch Nicholai Nicholaievitch 
and his wife who, he alleged, were at their old prad- 
tices of table-tipping and spiritism, which he thought 
to be a highly dangerous way to conduct a war against 
the Germans. As for me, I repeat that never once 
did I say or do anything to influence the Emperor in 
state affairs. I wish I could here reproduce a letter 
written to my father by the Emperor in which all 
the reasons for taking the step he did were explained. 
The letter, alas ! was taken from me by the Bolsheviki 
after my father's death, and I suppose was destroyed. 
On the evening when the Emperor met his ministers 
to announce his great decision I dined at the palace, 
and I was deeply impressed with the firmness of the 
Emperor's decision not to be overborne by arguments 
or vain fears on the part of timid statesmen. As he 
arose to go to the council chamber the Emperor begged 
us to pray for him that his resolution should not falter. 
"You do not know how hard it has been for me to 


refrain from taking an active part in the command of 
my beloved army," he said at parting. Overcome and 
speechless, I pressed into his hand a tiny ikon which 
I had always worn around my neck, and during the 
long council which followed the Empress and I prayed 
fervently for the Emperor and for our distracted 

As the time passed the Empress's anxiety grew so 
great that, throwing a cloak around her shoulders and 
beckoning me to follow, she went out on the balcony, 
one end of which gave on the council room. Through 
the lace of the window curtains we could see the Em- 
peror sitting very upright, surrounded by his ministers, 
one of whom was on his feet speaking earnestly. Our 
eleven o'clock tea was served long before the Emperor, 
entirely exhausted, returned from the conference. 
Throwing himself in an armchair, he stretched him- 
self out like a man spent after extreme exertion, and 
I could see that his brow and hands were wet with 

"They did not move me," he said in a low, tense 
voice. "I listened to all their long, dull speeches, and 
when all had finished I said: 'Gentlemen, in two days 
from now I leave for the Stavka.' " As he repeated 
the words his face lightened, his shoulders straight- 
ened, and he appeared like a man whose strength was 
suddenly renewed. 

Yet one more struggle was before him. The Em- 
press Dowager, whom the Emperor visited immedi- 
ately after the ministerial conference, was by this tim.e 
thoroughly imbued with the German-spy mania in 
which the Empress and Rasputine, not to mention my- 


self, were involved. She believed the whole preposter- 
ous tissue of lies which had been built up and with all 
her might she struggled against the Emperor's de- 
cision to assume supreme command of the army. For 
over two hours a painful scene was enacted in the Em- 
press Dowager's gardens, he trying to show her that 
utter disaster threatened the army and the Empire 
under existing conditions, and she repeating over and 
over again the wicked slanders of German plots which 
she insisted that he was furthering. In the end the 
Emperor left, terribly shaken, but with his resolution 
as strong as ever. 

Before leaving for staff headquarters the Emperor 
and his family took communion together at the Feo- 
dorovsky Cathedral and at their last meal together 
he showed himself calm and collected as he had not 
been for some time; in fact, not since the beginning of 
the last disastrous campaign. From headquarters 
the Emperor wrote full accounts of the scenes which 
took place when he assumed personal command, and 
of the furious anger, not only of the deposed Nicholai 
Nicholaievitch but of all his staff, "Every one of 
whom," wrote the Emperor, "has the ambition him- 
self to govern Russia." 

I am not attempting to write a military history 
of those years, and I am quite aware of the fact that 
most published accounts of the Russian Army repre- 
sent Nicholai Nicholaievitch as the devoted friend 
of the Allies and the Emperor as the pliant tool of 
German influences. It is undeniable, however, that al- 
most as soon as Nicholai Nicholaievitch had been sent 
to the Caucasus and the Emperor took command of 


the Western Army a marked improvement in the gen- 
eral morale became apparent. Retreat at various 
points was stopped, the whole front strengthened, and 
a new spirit of loyalty to the Empire was manifest. 

I wish to interpolate here, in connection with the 
Emperor's personal command of the army, a word on 
the immense service he rendered it at the beginning 
of the War in suppressing the manufacture and sale 
of vodka, the curse of the Russian peasantry. The 
Emperor did this entirely on his own initiative, without 
advice from his ministers or the Grand Dukes. The 
Emperor said at the time: "At least by this I will be 
remembered," and he was, because the condition of the 
peasants, the town workers, and of course the army 
became at once immeasurably better. In the midst of 
war-time privations the savings-banks accounts of the 
people increased enormously, and in the army there 
was none of the hideous debauchery which disgraced 
Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. As an eminent 
French correspondent long afterwards wrote: "It is 
to the dethroned Emperor Nicholas that we must ac- 
cord the honor of having effected the greatest of 
all internal reforms in war-time Russia, the suppression 
of alcoholism." 

In October the Emperor came to Tsarskoe Selo for 
a brief visit, and on his return he took with him to the 
Stavka the young Tsarevitch. This is the first time he 
had ever separated the boy from his mother, and the 
Empress was never happy except in the few minutes 
each day when she was reading the child's daily letter. 
At nine o'clock at night she went up to his bedroom 
exactly as though he were there and she was listening 


to his evening prayers. By day the Empress continued 
her tireless work in the hospitals from which, by rea- 
son of my accident, I had long been excluded. How- 
ever, at this time, I received from the railroad as com- 
pensation for my injuries the considerable sum of 
eighty thousand rubles, and with the money I estab- 
lished a hospital for convalescent soldiers in which 
maimed and wounded men received training in various 
useful trades. This, it is needless to say, became a 
great source of happiness to me, since I knew as well 
as the soldiers what it meant to be crippled and help- 
less. From the first my hospital training school was a 
most gratifying success, and my personal interest in 
it never ceased until the Revolution, after which all 
my efforts at usefulness and service ended in imprison- 
ment and persecution. 

Not this action of mine, patriotic though it must 
have appeared, no amount of devotion of the Empress 
to the wounded, sufficed to check the rapidly growing 
propaganda which sought to convict the Imperial 
Family and all its friends of being German spies. The 
fact that in England the Empress's brother-in-law, 
Prince Louis of Battenberg, German-born but a loyal 
Briton, was forced to resign his command in the British 
Navy was used with effect against the Empress Alex- 
andra Feodorovna. She knew and resented keenly 
this insane delusion, and she did everything in her 
power to overcome it. I remember a day when the 
Empress received a letter from her brother Ernest, 
Grand Duke of Hesse, in which he implored her to do 
something to improve the barbarous conditions of Ger- 
man prisoners in Russia. With streaming tears the 


Empress owned herself powerless to do anything at 
all in behalf of the unhappy captives. She had organ- 
ized a committee for the relief of Russian prisoners 
in Germany, but this had been fiercely attacked, es- 
pecially in the columns of Novy Vreviya, an influential 
organ of the Constitutional Democratic Party. In this 
newspaper and in general society the Empress's com- 
mittee was accused of being a mere camouflage gotten 
up to shield her real purpose of helping the Germans. 
Against such attacks the Empress had no defense. 
Her secretary, Count Rostovseff, indeed tried to re- 
fute the story concerning the Empress's prison-camp 
committee, but the editors of Novy Fremya insolently 
refused to publish his letter of explanation. 

The German-spy mania was extended from the 
palace to almost every Russian who had the misfor- 
tune to possess a name that sounded at all German. 
Count Fredericks and Minister Sturmer were among 
those who suffered calumny, although neither spoke a 
single German sentence. But the greatest sufferers 
were those barons of the Baltic Provinces whose an- 
cestors had bequeathed them names of quite certain 
German origin. Many of these men were arrested and 
sent to die, or to suffer worse than death in exile. The 
sons and relatives of many of these very Baltic pro- 
prietors were at the time fighting loyally in the Russian 
Army. That there were German spies at work In 
Russia all during the War I have no reason to doubt, 
but they were the men who after 19 17 invited in and 
exalted Lenine and Trotzky, and not the Empress and 
her friends, nor yet the persecuted estate owners of the 
Baltic Provinces. Did the Emperor's family call upon 


the Germans to rescue them from Siberia? Did any 
of the Baltic Provinces at Versailles ask to be united 
to Germany? 

The army and navy still remained loyal to the 
Sovereigns. On one of his home visits to Tsarskoe 
Selo the Emperor brought with him as a proof of this 
the Cross of the Order of St. George, the highest of 
all Russian military decorations, which none could be- 
stow except the Emperor, or the chief command of 
one of the armies in the field. In this case it was the 
gallant Southern Army which had voted to bestow it 
on the Emperor, and his pride and joy in it were 
humbly great. 


TO one who has always held the honor and faith 
of the Russian people very dear, who has never 
doubted that after the last hideous phase of revolution 
and anarchism has passed, the Russian nation will 
emerge stronger and better than ever before, the writ- 
ing of these next chapters is a duty Inexpressibly pain- 
ful. I must tell the truth, otherwise it would have 
been better for me never to have written at all. Yet 
to picture In anything like Its true colors the decadence 
of Petrograd society from 19 14 onward is a task from 
which any loyal Russian must shrink. Without a 
knowledge of these conditions, however, students of 
the Russian Revolution will never be able to under- 
stand why the fabric of government slipped so easily 
from the feeble hands of the Provisional Government 
to the ruthless and bloody grasp of the Bolshevists. 

During the entire winter of 19 15, when the War 
was being waged on all fronts with such disaster to 
the Allies, when millions of men, Russians, Frenchmen, 
Belgians, Englishmen, were giving up their lives in 
the cause of freedom, the aristocracy of the Russian 
capital was indulging In a reckless orgy of dancing, 
sports, dining, yes, and wining also in spite of the 
Emperor's edict against alcohol, spending enormous 
sums for gowns and jewels, and in every way ignoring 
the terrible fact that the world was on fire and that 



civilization was battling for its very life. In the 
palace the most frugal regime had been adopted. 
Meals were simple almost to parsimony, no money was 
spent except for absolute necessities, and the Empress 
and her daughters spent practically every waking hour 
working and praying for the soldiers. But society, 
when it was not otherwise amusing itself, was indulg- 
ing in a new and madly exciting game of intrigue 
against the throne. To spread slanders about the 
Empress, to inflame the simple minds of workm.en 
against the state was the most popular diversion of 
the aristocracy. A typical instance of this mania was 
related to me by my sister, who one morning was sur- 
prised by an unexpected visit from her sister-in-law, 
daughter of a very great lady of the aristocracy. 
Bursting into the room, this woman exclaimed delight- 
edly: "What do you think we are doing now? 
Spreading stories through all the factories that the 
Empress is keeping the Emperor constantly drunk. 
Everybody believes it." I mention this story as typical 
because the woman involved afterwards became very 
prominent in the Grand Ducal cabal that forced the 
abdication, and she was also one of two women pres- 
ent in the Yusupoff Palace on the night of Rasputine's 

Every possible circumstance, no matter how incon- 
sequential, was eagerly seized as capital by these 
plotters. A former lady in waiting, Marie Vassil- 
chikoff, long retired from Court and living on her' 
Austrian estates, came to Petrograd, I know not how, 
and asked for an audience with the Empress. Since 
Russia was at war with Austria this audience could 


not be granted, nor did the Empress even remotely de- 
sire it. Yet as the story was circulated Marie Vas- 
sIlchikofF was represented as having been sent for by 
the Empress to negotiate a separate peace with 
Austria, and that this treachery was frustrated only 
by the vigorous intervention of the Grand Duchess 

These stories were spread not only by Court and 
society people, but were made into a regular propa- 
ganda in the army, especially among the higher com- 
mand. The propaganda was chiefly in the hands of 
members of the Union of Zemstvos, its most success- 
ful agent being the infamous Goutchkoff, who now, it is 
gratifying to know, has earned the contempt of every 
Russian political group, even including the Bolshevists. 
Thus in a whirl of heartless gaiety and an organized 
campaign against the Sovereigns and against the Em- 
pire passed the winter of 19 15, the dark prelude of 
darker years to come. 

In the spring of that year, my health being still very 
precarious, their Majesties sent me in charge of a 
sanitary train filled with invalid soldiers and officers 
to the soft climate of the Crimea, With me went a 
sister of mercy and the sanitary-corps man Jouk, of 
whom I have spoken. On the same train journeyed 
also three members of the secret police, ostensibly to 
protect, but really, as I well understood, to spy upon 
me. Their presence the Empress, who came in the 
pouring rain to see the train off from the station, was 
powerless to forbid, as she herself was constantly under 
the surveillance of the dread Okhrana. Our train 
traveled slowly, taking five days from Petrograd to 


the Black Sea. But this we did not mind as we were 
very comfortable, the weather became beautiful, and 
our frequent stops at Moscow and towns farther 
south were full of interest. Our destination was 
Evpatoria on the eastern shore of the Black. Sea, and 
here all of us were cordially received, M. Duvan, the 
head man of the city, giving me for a residence his 
own flower-hung villa overlooking the sea. Here I 
spent two peaceful months, finding the mud baths 
wonderfully restoring, and meeting some unusually in- 
teresting people. I am sure that few people outside of 
Russia have ever heard of the Karaim, a racial group 
among the most ancient in the world and of whom, 
even then, a bare ten thousand existed. They were 
not Jews, although they worshipped in synagogues, 
because they acknowledged Christ as God, or at least 
a special prophet of God. They were, and are, if they 
still exist, a strange mixture of pious Jews and early 
Christians, left-overs from the days of the decaying 
Roman Empire when Judaism and Christianity were 
trying to unite in one faith. The head of the Karaim 
in Evpatoria was a fine black-bearded patriarch named 
Gaham, and with him I formed an almost immediate 
friendship. Dressed in the long black robe of his 
office, he used to sit with me for hours reading and 
reciting the legends of his people, many reaching back 
into the dim twilight of civilization. I liked the patri- 
arch, not only for his simplicity and his kindness to me, 
but for his evident love and loyalty to the Imperial 
Family, a loyalty shared by all the people of the 

A telegram from the Empress told me that she was 


then leaving for the Stavka, from which she and the 
Emperor and the whole Imperial Family would pro- 
ceed to the Crimea for an important military and 
naval review. Obeying her instructions I motored 
from Evpatoria to Sevastopol, through an enchanting 
landscape of hills and plains, the latter being literally 
carpeted with scarlet poppies. Arriving at Sevastopol, 
I had some difficulty in passing the guard, but the Em- 
press's telegram, marked "Imperial," I had brought 
with me, and this proved the open sesame to the Em- 
peror's special train. I lunched with the Empress and 
the Grand Duchesses, meeting the Emperor and Alexei 
when they came from the reviews at six o'clock. I 
spent that night in town, and the next day returned 
to Evpatoria, their Majesties promising to visit me 
within a few days. On May 16 they arrived and re- 
ceived a most enthusiastic welcome, not only from the 
townspeople but from the Tartars, who came in from 
the hills by thousands, from the people of the Karaim, 
and others as strange and as picturesque. The huge 
square before the cathedral was strewn with fragrant 
roses over which the Imperial Family walked to ser- 
vice. The next few hours were spent in a round of 
visits to churches, hospitals, and sanatoriums, and it 
was to a late luncheon at my villa that they finally 
arrived. After luncheon we walked and sat on the 
beach, but the gathering crowd became so large and 
so curious that the poor Emperor, who had looked for- 
ward to a sea bath and a swim, had to relinquish both. 
Alexei enjoyed the day, boy fashion, without regard 
to the crowds, playing on the beach and building a big 
sand fortress, which the schoolboys of the town next 


day surrounded by a high wall of stones to protect It 
from the ravages of the tide. We had tea in the gar- 
den, the Empress greatly enjoying the Oriental sweets 
sent her by the Tartars. In the evening I dined on the 
Imperial train and traveled with it a short distance on 
its way back to Petro.grad. 

In June I returned to Tsarskoe and resumed work 
in my beloved hospital training school. The weather 
was unusually hot but the Empress continued her con- 
stant duties in the hospitals and operating rooms. 
Often I accompanied her on her rounds, and it came to 
me as a painful shock that the surgeons and some of 
the wounded officers no longer regarded her, as before, 
with respect and veneration. Too often an officer 
would assume in her presence a careless and indifferent 
manner which even a professional nurse would have 
resented. The Empress never did. She must have 
noticed evidences of disrespect but no word of com- 
plaint ever passed her lips. When I ventured to sug- 
gest to her that it might be well to go less frequently 
to her hospital, she rewarded me with a look of re- 
proach. Whatever other people did, whatever their 
attitude towards the War, Royalty knew its duty and 
would perform it faithfully to the end. 

Both the Emperor and the Empress during all this 
rising tide of disaffection persisted in underestimating 
its importance. The Emperor especially treated the 
whole movement with the contempt which no doubt 
it merited but which as a national menace it was 
far too dangerous to ignore. I realized it keenly, but 
knowing how impossible it was to make their Majesties 
understand that everything that was said against me. 


against Rasputine, against the Ministers, was actually 
directed against themselves, I was obliged to keep my 
lips closed. My parents realized as well as I did what 
was going on. They had good reason, in fact, for 
my mother had received two most insulting letters, one 
from Princess Galatzine, sister of Mme. Rodzianko, 
whose husband was President of the Duma, and an- 
other from Mme. Timasheff, a woman of the highest 
aristocracy, letters which indicated a certain collusion 
between the writers. In them my mother was brutally 
informed that neither of the women desired any 
further acquaintanceship or association with her as 
she too undoubtedly belonged to the German-spy 
party. My parents at the time were living quietly In 
the little seaside town of Terioke, near Petrograd, and 
were studiously avoiding the vulgar orgies and in- 
trigues of society. 

In the midst of all these heart-breaking events I 
sought distraction in the enlargement and perfecting 
of my occupational hospital which was rapidly becom- 
ing overcrowded with invalids. I bought an additional 
piece of land and arranged for four portable houses 
to be brought from Finland. Two of these arrived 
duly, and I spent hours of absorbing interest watch- 
ing them being put together on the newly acquired 
land. All these days I was constantly being bothered 
by people who, perhaps believing that the money I 
was investing in hospitals was another proof of my 
power over the Imperial treasury, tormented me with 
petitions of every kind and description, but all of them 
alike in the selfishness of their character. With cold 
hatred in their eyes, but with hypocritical words on 


their lips, these people besought my good offices with 
their Majesties on behalf of their sons, husbands, and 
relatives, all of whom were alleged to be worthy of 
promotions and of lucrative positions under the State. 
One woman of good social position invaded my hos- 
pital one day and treated me to a disgraceful scene 
because I had assured her that I was powerless to 
further her ambition to see her husband appointed 
head of a certain Government. Naturally it hap- 
pened that some petitioners were poor and needy, and 
these, to the best of my ability, but without any po- 
litical influence whatever, I did endeavor to help. I 
know now, after witnessing true sympathy and kind- 
ness to prisoners and persecuted, like myself in later 
days, that I never did half what I might have done 
in the time of my prosperity. If better days come 
to Russia in my lifetime God help me to devote all 
that remains of my years to the poor and especially to 
prisoners. Now that I have tasted poverty, now that 
I have known the hopelessness of captivity, I know 
better than I did what can- be done for the lowly and 

A number of very disquieting events occurred to us 
during the summer. On very hot days it was the cus- 
tom of the Empress and the children to drive through 
the woods and shaded roads to Pavlovsk, a few versts 
from Tsarskoe Selo. One stifling afternoon we started 
out as usual in two carriages, the Empress and myself 
leading the way. The horses were magnificent ani- 
mals, apparently in the very pink of condition, but 
suddenly one of the horses uttered a piercing scream 
and dropped dead in his harness. The other horse 


plunged sidewise in terror and for a few minutes it was 
all the coachman could do to avoid an overturn. The 
Empress, pale, but as always courageous, got out of 
the carriage and helped me, who was still on crutches, 
to alight. The carriage of the children drove up, and 
getting In, we returned without further incident to 
the palace. Whatever caused the sudden death of that 
horse, or what was the object of that carriage acci- 
dent — if indeed it was an accident — we never knew, 
but it left behind in my mind, and I think also in the 
mind of the Empress, a strangely sinister impression. 
The Empress nevertheless went steadfastly on with 
her hospital work, arranging in the convalescent wards 
concerts and entertainments for the pleasure of the 
wounded. The best singers, the most accomplished 
musicians, were secured for these concerts, and the men 
seemed appreciative of them. Yet over the head of the 
Empress Alexandra Feodorovna drifted darker and 
darker the shadow of impending doom. The things 
I dared not say to her began to reach her from others. 
In August came from the Crimea the head man of 
the Karaim, of whom I have spoken. From the first 
he made an agreeable impression on the Empress and 
the children, especially upon Alexei, who never tired of 
listening to his stories. But Gaham had not made the 
journey from the Crimea to relate legends and tales. 
He had previously been connected with the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs, serving in Persia and the East, and 
his acute mind was still occupied with the foreign af- 
fairs of the Empire on which he kept himself well 

Determined, If possible, to force the Empress to 




understand the gravity of the situation, he told her 
a number of extraordinary things which had come to 
his knowledge, among them an organized plot against 
the throne which was being carried on by near 
relatives of the Tsar in the seclusion of an allied for- 
eign embassy in Petr.ograd. His story, involving, as 
it did, the ambassador of a friendly power, the trusted 
representative of an own cousin of the Emperor, 
seemed to the Empress too preposterous to be credited. 
Horrified, she ended the conversation, and a few days 
later she went, taking me with her, to visit the Em- 
peror at the Stavka. What he had to comment on her 
report of an alleged ambassadorial plot against him 
I never knew, but I soon became aware that represen- 
tatives of other foreign countries were undeniably 
hostile. At the Stavka were military commissions of 
practically every allied country, among them General 
Williams and his staff from Great Britain, General 
Janin from France, General Rikkel from Belgium, and 
high officers from Italy, Serbia, Rumania, Japan, and 
other countries, all accompanied by subordinate of- 
ficers. One afternoon when the gardens were quite 
crowded by these men and men of our own army, and 
while the Empress was making her customary circle, I 
chanced to overhear a conversation among officers of 
the foreign military missions, in which the most 
slanderous words against her Majesty were uttered. 
"She has come again, it appears," said one of these 
men, "to see her husband and give him the latest or- 
ders of Rasputine." "The suite hate to hear her ar- 
rival announced," said another officer. "They know 
it means changes." 


Worse things were said, but without waiting to 
listen I managed to make my way to the Empress, and 
that night inviting, as I was well aware, her irritation 
and disbelief, I related something of what I had over- 
heard. I went further and reminded her of what we 
both knew, the increasing demoralization of the Em- 
peror's staff. The Grand Dukes and the commanding 
officers were, as a matter of course, invited each day 
to lunch with the Emperor, but with insolence and 
audacity hitherto unheard of, many of the Emperor's 
near kinsmen declined these invitations. They gave 
the most trivial and transparent excuses for their ab- 
sence — headaches, fatigue, previous engagements, al- 
leged duties. The Empress listened to what I said, 
silent and distraught. She knew, and I also knew, 
that nothing she could say to the Emperor would make 
the slightest impression. His eyes and ears were still 
closed to the gathering tempest. 

General Alexieff, Chief of Staff, and undoubtedly 
a valuable officer, had, I soon learned, been drawn into 
the plot. The Emperor suspected him to be in cor- 
respondence with the traitor Goutchkoff, but when 
questioned General Alexieff denied this vehemently. 
He was soon, however, to prove his treachery to the 
Emperor. There was in attendance on his Majesty at 
the Stavka an old officer. General Ivanoff, a St. George 
Cross man, who formerly had held command of the 
Army of the South. This devoted and loyal old 
soldier General Alexieff knew he must get rid of, and 
this, had he been honest, he might have done by plead- 
ing age or decreased usefulness. Instead, he merely 
summoned General Ivanoff and informed him that to 


the regret of the whole staff he was removed. The 
Chief of Staff was not responsible for this, he declared, 
the order having come from the Empress and her ac- 
complices, Rasputine and Mme. Virubova. What Gen- 
eral Alexieff said to the Emperor on the subject I do 
not know, but when next the two met the Emperor 
turned his head aside. This sudden coldness on the 
part of the Emperor, whom old General Ivanoff loved 
dearly, made it impossible for him to seek an audience, 
and yet the general was valiantly determined not to 
leave the Stavka without presenting his case to the 
Sovereign. Calling on me that same day, he repeated 
to me, while tears rolled down his white beard, the 
lying words of General Alexieff against the Empress. 
Feeling it against reason and justice that the Emperor 
should remain in ignorance of this insult to his wife, 
I promised to speak to him about it, and this I did, 
but to little purpose. The Emperor's wrath against 
Alexieff was indeed kindled but he evidently felt that 
he could not, at that critical hour, dismiss an officer 
whose services were so urgently in demand. After- 
wards, however, his manner towards old General 
Ivanoff became conspicuously kind. 

We remained for some time after this at the Stavka, 
days to me of such sad remembrance that I can scarcely 
endure the task of recording them. The Empress and 
her suite, the Grand Duchesses, and myself lived on 
board the Imperial train, motor cars coming each day 
at one o'clock to take us to staff headquarters to 
luncheon. Headquarters were in an ancient villa of 
the Governor of the Province, a rather old-fashioned 


and uncomfortable place. Even the huge dining room 
where the Emperor and Empress, the staff and the 
officers of the foreign missions met each day was a dull 
and gloomy room. When the weather became very 
warm this dismal apartment was abandoned, and 
luncheon was served in a large tent in a shady part 
of the grounds overlooking the town and farther away 
still the flowing tide of the mighty Dnieper. The only 
really bright circumstance of the time was the growing 
health and strength of the Tsarevitch. He was de- 
veloping marvelously through the summer, both in 
bodily vigor and in gaiety of spirits. With his tutors, 
M. Gilliard and Petroff, he romped and played as 
though illness were a thing to him unknown. With. 
several of the allied officers, notably with the Belgian 
General Rikkel, he was also on the best of terms. 

Every day after luncheon the maids came from the 
train with what gowns and other apparel we needed 
for the remaining functions of the day. There was 
little room in the house in which to change, but we 
managed to appropriate a few nooks and corners, and 
to make ourselves as presentable as possible in the cir- 
cumstances. In the Emperor's scant hours of leisure 
he loved to walk with his family in the woods along 
the river brink, and sometimes when I saw the Empress 
sitting on the grass talking informally with the peasant 
women who crowded around her, I took comfort, be- 
lieving then, as I still believe, that the great mass of 
the Russian people were to the end faithful to their 
Sovereigns. As for the suite, most of them became 
increasingly indifferent, bound up In their foolish per- 


sonal affairs, diverting themselves with whispered 
gossip and laughter, apparently quite indifferent to the 
calamitous progress of the War, People to whom 
religion is still in these cynical days a real refuge will 
understand me when I tell them what comfort I found 
in an ancient convent in the neighborhood, and in the 
poor little church which adjoined it. The one treasure 
of this church was an old and highly revered image of 
Our Lady of Mogiloff and almost every day of that 
distressful summer I managed to spend a few minutes 
on my knees before her dark and mystic image. One 
day, feeling in my heart the imminence of a danger I 
dared not name even to myself, I took off my diamond 
earrings and laid them at the foot of the shrine where 
I had sought and received peace of mind. I hope my 
poor offering was received with grace by the saint, 
who of course did not need it, but whose helpless ones 
always do. A little later the monks presented me 
with a small replica of the image, and strangely 
enough this was the one ikon I was permitted to take 
with me when I was sent to the Fortress of Peter and 

Of that unhappy summer of 191 6 I have only one or 
two more incidents to relate. One of these was a 
visit to the Stavka of the Princess Paley, wife of Grand 
Duke Paul. Coming from Kiev, where the Empress 
Dowager and the Grand Duke Nicholai Michailovitch 
were in residence, it appeared ominous to me that they 
too, all of them, seemed to be inoculated with the de- 
lusion of the German spy and the Rasputine influence. 
Neither the Princess nor the Grand Duke were in the 
least tactful in the expression of their opinions on the 


subject. Another visitor to the Stavka was Rodzianko, 
who came to demand the instant dismissal of 
Protopopoff, Minister of the Interior, once his friend 
and confidant, but now accused by the President of the 
Duma of being a lunatic. The Emperor received 
Rodzianko coldly, and did not even invite him to 
lunch. At tea that afternoon the Emperor said that 
the interview had angered him intensely as he knew 
quite well that Rodzianko's representations and mo- 
tives were wholly insincere. Almost everything at the 
Stavka was growing worse and worse, the Grand 
Dukes being more insolent than ever and continually 
annoying General Voyeikoff by ordering trains and 
motors for themselves without any regard to the re- 
quirements of the Emperor. It was with feelings of 
unspeakable relief that in November, 19 16, we left 
the Stavka for Tsarskoe Selo. In the Imperial train 
with us traveled young Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovitch 
who even then was probably involved in a deadly plot 
against their Majesties. Yet this young man was able 
to keep up a pretense of friendship with the Empress, 
sitting beside her couch and entertaining her by the 
hour with amusing gossip and stories. Hearing the 
laughter the Emperor often opened his study door to 
listen and to join in the conversation. It was a merry 
journey home, yet within a few days after we arrived 
troubles again began to multiply. Entering the Em- 
press's door one day, I found her in a passion of indig- 
nation and grief. As soon as she could speak she told 
me that the Emperor had sent her a letter from 
Nicholai Michailovitch, in which the Empress was 
specifically charged with the most mischievous political 


machinations. "Unless this is stopped," the letter con- 
cluded, "murders will certainly begin." ^ 

Nicholai Michailovitch, it appears, had gone to the 
Stavka from the group in Kiev, with the express ob- 
ject of delivering this letter. Every member of the 
staff knew his errand and expected him to be ignomin- 
iously ejected from the Emperor's study. Nothing of 
the kind happened, and the Grand Duke stayed to 
luncheon in the most friendly manner. I do not know 
what he said to the Emperor, but I do know that the 
letter was laid on the Emperor's desk. Nothing was 
said or done to avenge this deadly insult to the wife of 
Nicholas II whom undoubtedly he loved dearer than 
his own life. The only explanation I can think of was 
the Emperor's complete absorption in the War, 
and in his unshaken conviction that the plotters' gossip 
was entirely harmless. He had the kind of mind which 
could concentrate on only one thing at a time, and at 
this period his whole heart and soul was with the fight- 
ing armies. I well remember scraps of conversation 
with him during those days which indicated that in the 
back of his mind were many plans for future internal 
reforms. He spoke of important social changes which 
must come after the War, social and constitutional re- 
forms. "I will do everything necessary afterwards," 
he said in more than one of these conversations. "But 
I cannot act now. I cannot do more than one thing at 
a time." 

* Previous to the War and the impending revolution the Empress 
had had very little to do with politics, but it is true that when 
affairs became desperate she did what she rightly could to advise 
her husband. 


The Empress, I think, for all her sensitiveness to the 
abominable accusations brought against her, tried to 
preserve the same waiting state of mind. Most dis- 
agreeable incidents she kept to herself, yet one day 
she showed me a letter written directly to her by a 
Princess Vassilchikoff, a letter so insulting that the 
Emperor was aroused to order the Princess and her 
husband, a member of the Duma, to their country 
estates. This letter was written on small scraps of 
paper evidently torn from a cheap writing tablet. "At 
least," said the Empress with faint sarcasm, "she 
might have used the stationery of a lady when address- 
ing her Sovereign." 

What had taken possession of Petrograd society? 
I often asked myself. Was it a mob delusion, con- 
tagious, like certain diseases? Was it a madness born 
of the War similar to other strange hysterias which 
arose during some of the wars of the Middle Ages? 
That the delusion was confined to Petrograd and a few 
other towns frequented by the aristocracy was perfectly 
apparent. In the last days of 19 16 the Empress with 
Olga, Tatiana, and General Racine paid a brief visit 
to Novgorod to inspect military hospitals and to pray 
in the monastery and church of Sofisky Sobor, one of 
the oldest churches in Russia. Her visit was opposed, 
quite senselessly, by Petrograd society, which ac- 
cused her of going for some bad purpose, God knows 
what. But at Novgorod the people poured out in 
throngs to greet her with peals of bells, music, and 
cheers. Before leaving the city the Empress paid a 
visit to a very old woman who had spent forty helpless 
years in bed, still wearing the heavy chains of penitence 


which as a pilgrim she had, almost a lifetime before, 
assumed. As her Majesty entered the old woman's 
cell a feeble voice uttered these words: "Here comes 
the martyred Empress, Alexandra Feodorovna." 
What could this aged and bedridden recluse have 
known or guessed of events which were to come? 


IN preceding chapters I have mentioned the name of 
Rasputine, that strange and ill-starred being about 
whom almost nothing is known to the multitude but 
against whom such horrible accusations have been made 
that he is universally classed with such monsters of in- 
iquity as Cain, Nero, and Judas Iscariot. Even H. G. 
Wells, in whose "Outline of History" Joan of Arc and 
Abraham Lincoln are disposed of in a line, sacrifices 
valuable space, to state as an established fact that in 
19 1 7 the Russian Court was "dominated by a religious 
impostor, Rasputin, whose cult was one of unspeakable 
foulness, a reeking scandal in the face of the world." 
I have no desire in this book to attempt an exoneration 
of Rasputine, for I am not so ambitious as to believe 
that I can change the collective mind of the world on 
any point. In the interests of historical truth, however, 
I believe it to be my simple duty to record the plain 
tale of how and why Rasputine came to be a factor in 
the lives of Nicholas II and of Alexandra Feodorovna, 
his wife, and exactly to what extent he did, or rather, 
did not, dominate the Russian Court. Those who ex- 
pect from me secret and sensatianal disclosures will, I 
fear, be disappointed, for Rasputine's every movement 
for years was known to the Russian police, and the 

mjost sensa;tional fact of his whole career, his assassina- 



tion, has been described by practically every writer of 
the events of the Russian Revolution. 

I will first explain the exact status of the man, for 
this does not appear to be generally understood. He 
has been called a priest, more often still a monk, but 
the truth is he was not in holy orders at all. He be- 
longed to a curious species of roving religious peasant 
which in Russia were called Stranniki, the nearest Eng- 
lish translation of the word being pilgrims. These 
wandering peasants, common sights in the old Russia, 
were accustomed to travel from one end of the Empire 
to the other, often walking with heav}'' chains on their 
bodies to make their progress more painful and diffi- 
cult. They went from church to church, shrine to 
shrine, monastery to monastery, praying, fasting, mor- 
tifying the flesh, and their prayers were, by a very con- 
siderable population, eagerly sought and devoutly 
believed in. Once in a while a Strannik appeared who, 
by virtue of his extreme piety, gift of speech, or strong 
personality, acquired more than local reputation. 
Churchmen of high rank, estate owners, and even mem- 
bers of the nobility invited these men to their houses, 
listened with interest to their discourses, and asked for 
their prayers. Such a Strannik was Gregory Raspu- 
tine, who from the humblest beginnings in a remote 
Siberian village became known all over the Empire as 
a man of almost superhuman endowment. 

Of the type of Russians to whom the Stranniki made 
a genuine appeal the Emperor and Empress un- 
doubtedly belonged. The Emperor, like several of his 
near ancestors, was a bom mystic, and the soul of 
Alexandra Feodorovna, either from natural inclination 


or from close association with him whom she so dearly 
loved, leaned also towards mysticism. By this I do not 
mean that the Emperor and the Empress were at all 
interested in spiritualism, table-tipping, or alleged ma- 
terializations from the world beyond. Far from it. 
In the earliest days of my acquaintance with the Em- 
press, as far back as 1905, she gave me a special warn- 
ing against these things, telling me that if I wished for 
her friendship never to have anything to do with so- 
called spiritism. Both the Emperor and the Empress 
were profoundly interested in the religious life and 
expressions of the whole human race. They read with 
sympathy and understanding the religious literature 
not only of Christendom but of India, Persia, and the 
countries of the Far East. I remember in connection 
with the Empress's first warning against spiritism that 
she gave me a book, an obscure fourteenth-century 
missal called "Les Amis des Dieti" which, in spite of 
her warm recommendation, I found great difficulty in 
reading. This interest in religion and the life of the 
spirit was actually what constituted what Mr. Wells 
calls the "crazy pietism" of Nicholas II. It was simple 
Christianity lived and not merely subscribed to as a 
theory. They believed that prophecy, in the Biblical 
sense of the word, still existed in certain highly gifted 
and spiritually minded persons. They believed that it 
was possible outside the church and without the aid of 
regularly ordained bishops and priests to hold com- 
munion with God and with His Spirit. Before I came 
to Court there was a Frenchman, Dr. Philippe, in 
whom they reposed the greatest confidence, believing 
him to be one in whom the gift of prophecy existed. I 


never knew Dr. Philippe, hence I can speak of him 
only as a sort of a forerunner of Rasputine, because, as 
the Empress told me, his coming was foretold by Dr. 
Philippe. Very shortly before his death the French 
mystic told them that they would have another friend 
authorized to speak to them from God, and when 
Rasputine appeared he was accepted as that friend. 

Rasputine, although very poor and humble and al- 
most entirely illiterate, had acquired a great reputation 
as a preacher, and had especially attracted the attention 
of Bishop Theofan, a churchman of renown in Petro- 
grad. Bishop Theofan introduced the Strannik to the 
wife of Grand Duke Nicholas, who immediately con- 
ceived a warm admiration for him, and began to speak 
to her friends of his marvelous piety and spiritual 
insight. At that time the Emperor was on very 
friendly terms with the Grand Duke Nicholas, or 
rather with his wife and her sister, two princesses of 
Montenegro who had married, not quite in conformity 
with the rules of the Orthodox Church, the brothers. 
Grand Dukes Nicholas and Peter. One of these sis- 
ters. Princess Melitza, Grand Duchess Peter, had 
something of a reputation as a mystic, and it was at 
her house that the Emperor and Empress met first Dr. 
Philippe and later Rasputine. In one of my first 
conversations with the Empress she told me this, and 
told me also how deeply the conversation of the Si- 
berian peasant had interested both her husband and 
herself. In fact Rasputine, at that period, interested 
and Impressed almost everyone with whom he came In 
contact. When the house of Stolyplne was blown up 
by terrorist bombs and, among others, his beloved 


daughter was grievously wounded, it was Rasputine 
whom the famous statesman summoned to her bedside 
for prayer and supplication. I am aware that the pub- 
lic generally believes that it was I who introduced Ras- 
putine into the Russian Court, but truth compels me 
to declare that he was well known to the Sovereigns and 
to most of the Court long before I ever saw him. 

It was about a month before my marriage in 1907 
that the Empress asked Grand Duchess Peter to make 
me acquainted with Rasputine. I had heard that the 
Grand Duchess was very, clever and well read, and I 
was glad of the opportunity of meeting her in her 
palace on the English Quay in Petrograd. Interesting 
as I found her, I was nevertheless thrilled with excite- 
ment when a servant announced the arrival of Raspu- 
tine, Before his entrance the Grand Duchess said to 
me: "Do not be astonished if I greet him peasant 
fashion," that is, with three kisses on the cheek. She 
did so greet him and then she presented us to each 
other. I saw an elderly peasant, thin, with a pale face, 
long hair, an uncared-for beard, and the most extraor- 
dinary eyes, large, light, brilliant, and apparently ca- 
pable of seeing into the very mind and soul of the 
person with whom he held converse. He wore a long 
peasant coat, black and rather shabby from hard wear 
and much travel. We talked and the Grand Duchess, 
speaking in French, bade me ask him to pray for some 
special desire of mine. Timidly I begged him to pray 
that God would permit me to spend my whole life serv- 
ing their Majesties. To this he replied: "Your whole 
life will be thus spent." We parted then, but shortly 
afterwards, just before my wedding day, when my heart 


was in a tumult of doubt and anxiety, I wrote to the 
Grand Duchess Peter and asked her to seek Rasputine's 
counsel in my behalf. His word to me was that I would 
marry as I had planned but that I should not find 
happiness in my marriage. It will be seen how little I 
regarded him as a prophet at this time since I paid no 
attention to his warning. A full year after my mar- 
riage I saw Rasputine for the second time. It was on 
a train going from Petrograd to Tsarskoe Selo, he 
being on his way there to visit friends who were in no 
way connected with the Court. 

But, asks the bewildered reader, when and how did 
Rasputine acquire the dreadful, almost unprintable 
reputation which classes him with the arch-fiend him- 
self? To answer the question satisfactorily I should 
have to reveal at great length the strangely abnormal 
and hysterical mentality of the Russian people of that 
epoch. I shall try to do this as I go farther, but here I 
shall give, as a sort of illustration of the lunacy of 
the hour, a little experience of my own. It was on the 
first occasion after my arrest by Kerensky in the spring 
of 19 17, when I was brought before the High Com- 
mission of Justice of the Provisional Government. 
Weak and ill from my long imprisonment in the 
gloomy Fortress of Peter and Paul, I found myself 
facing an imposing group of something like forty 
judges, all learned in the law and clothed in such dig- 
nity of office that I gazed at them in a kind of awe. 
In my distracted mind I asked myself what questions 
these grave magistrates would ask me, and in what 
profound language would their questions be clothed. 
My heart almost stopped beating while I waited for 


the words of the chief judge. And this is what was 
said, in a deep and solemn voice: "Tell me, who was 
it at Court that Rasputine called a flower?" Sheer 
amazement held me speechless, but even had I been 
given time I could not have answered the question be- 
cause there was no such person. The judges whis- 
pered together for a moment and then the same man, 
handing me a piece of cardboard, demanded impres- 
sively : "What is the meaning of this secret card 
which was found in your house by the soldiers?" 

I took the piece of cardboard and almost instantly 
recognized it as a menu card of the yacht Standert, 
dated 1908. On the reverse side were written the 
names of war vessels present at that date at a naval 
review held near Kronstadt, Russian vessels all, among 
which the position of the Imperial yacht was marked 
by a crown. I handed the menu card back to the judge 
saying merely: "Look at it, and look at the date." 
He looked at it and in some confusion muttered: "It 
is true." One more question those giant intellects 
found to ask me. "Is it a fact that the Empress could 
not live without you?" To which I replied as any sen- 
sible person would have done : "Why should a happy 
wife and mother be unable to live without a mere 
friend?" The inquiry was then hastily closed and I 
was ordered back to prison, to be watched more closely 
than ever, because I would not answer to judgment. 

This is a perfectly fair sample of the madness and 
confusion of the Russian mind, or rather the Petrograd 
mind, before and after the Revolution. That this 
madness, this unreasoning mania for the destruction 
of all institutions might have something to justify itself 


in the public mind, it was absolutely necessary to find 
and to persecute individuals who typified, in popular 
imagination, the things which were so bitterly hated. 
Rasputine, more than any one other individual in the 
Empire, did typify old and unpopular institutions, and I 
can readily see why some intelligent and fair-minded 
persons thus accepted him. Dillon, for example, in his 
book, "The Eclipse of Russia," says: "It is my belief 
that although his friends were influential Rasputine 
was a symbol." 

Russia, like eighteenth-century France, passed 
through a period of acute insanity from which it is only 
now beginning to emerge in remorse and pain. This 
insanity was by no means confined to the ranks of the 
so-called Revolutionists. It pervaded the Duma, the 
highest ranks of society. Royalty itself, all as guilty of 
Russia's ruin as the most blood-thirsty terrorist. What 
had happened in these dark years between 1917 and 
1923 is simply the punishment of God for the sins of a 
whole people. When His avenging hand has so 
plainly been laid upon all of the Russian people how 
dare any of us lay the calamity entirely at the doors of 
the Bolsheviki? We Russians look on the appalling 
condition of our once great country, we behold the 
famishing millions on the Volga and in the Ukraine, we 
count the fearful roll of the murdered, the imprisoned, 
the exiled, and we cry weakly that the Tsar was guilty, 
Rasputine was guilty, this man and that woman were 
guilty, but never do we admit that we were all guilty, 
guilty of blackest treason to our God, our Emperor, 
our country. Yet not until we cease- to accuse others 
and repent our own sins will the white dawn of God's 


merqr rise over the starved and barren desert that was 
once mighty Russia. 

Rasputine, it seems to be generally assumed, having 
been introduced to the Imperial Family, took up his 
residence in the palace of the Romanoffs and there- 
after held in his hands the reins of government. 
Those who do not literally believe this are neverthe- 
less persuaded that Rasputine lived very near their 
Majesties, saw them constantly, was consulted and 
obeyed by the Ministers, and with the aid and conniv- 
ance of adoring women attached to the Court, ruled by 
fear and superstition the whole governing class of the 
Empire. If I denied that Rasputine ever lived at 
Court, ever had the smallest influence over govern- 
mental policies, ever ruled through adoring and super- 
stitious women, I should not hope to be believed. I 
will then simply call attention to the fact that every 
move of Rasputine from the hour when he began to 
frequent the palaces of the Grand Dukes, especially 
from the day he met the Emperor and Empress in the 
drawing room of the Grand Duchess Melitza, to the 
midnight when he met his death in the Yusupoff Palace 
on the Moika Canal in Petrograd, is a matter of the 
most minute police record. The police know how 
many days of each year Rasputine spent in Petrograd 
and how much of his time was lived in Siberia. They 
know exactly how many times he called at the palace at 
Tsarskoe Selo, how long he stayed and who was pres- 
ent. They know when and under exactly the circum- 
stances Rasputine came to my house, and who else came 
to the house at the same time. The police know more 
about Rasputine than all the journalists and the his- 


torians put together, and their records show that he 
spent most of his time in Siberia, and that when he 
visited Petrograd he lived in rather humble lodgings in 
an unfashionable street, 54 Gorochovaia. Rasputine 
never lived in the palace, seldom visited it, saw the 
Emperor less frequently than the Empress, and had 
among the women of the Court more enemies than, 

The English-speaking reader may doubt the com- 
pleteness and the accuracy of police records, knowing 
that in his own country only criminals and people of the 
underworld are really watched by the police. To 
know what police surveillance can mean it is necessary 
to have known Russia before 1917. I do not speak 
of the Bolshevik police. It is fairly well known what 
they are, but after all their methods, if not their 
motives, are founded on the Okhrana of the old days. 

To give an idea of the ever-open and searching eye 
of the old Russian police I will describe what the situ- 
ation was in the Imperial palace itself. In connection 
with the palace, or any of the Imperial residences, the 
persons of the Emperor and his family, the police force 
was organized in three sections. There were the pal- 
ace police, a Cossack convoi, and a regiment of Guards 
known as the Svodny Polk. Besides the ranking offi- 
cers of these organizations there was, over them all, a 
palace commandant, in the latest days of the Empire, 
General Voyeikoff. It was impossible for anyone to 
approach the palace, much less to be received by one 
of their Majesties, without the fact being known to 
scores of these police guards. Every soldier, every 
guard, in uniform or out, kept a notebook in which he 


was obliged to write down for inspection by his su- 
periors the movements of all persons who entered the 
palace and even those who passed its walls. More- 
over, they were obliged to communicate by telephone 
with their superior officers every event, however trivial, 
of which they were witness. This vigilance was ex- 
tended even to the persons of the Emperor and his 
family. If the Empress ordered her carriage for two 
o'clock in the afternoon, the lackey receiving the order 
immediately informed the nearest police guard of the 
fact. The guard telephoned the news to the palace 
commandant's office and from there the information 
went by telephone to the offices of the separate police 
organizations: "Her Majesty's carriage has been or- 
dered for two o'clock." This meant that from the 
time the Empress and her companion, or her children, 
drove from the palace doors to the hour when they 
returned the roads were lined with police, ready with 
their notebooks to record every single incident of the 
drive. Should the Empress stop her carriage to speak 
to an acquaintance, that unhappy individual would 
afterwards be approached by a guard standing in the 
road or behind trees or shrubbery, who would demand: 
"What is your name, and for what reason had you 
conversation with her Majesty?" With all her heart 
the Empress detested this system of police espionage, 
but it was one of the Russian ironclad traditions which 
neither she nor the Emperor could alter or abolish. 

If the Imperial Family was thus subject to police 
surveillance the reader can easily imagine how closely 
the ordinary citizen and especially citizens of eminence 
were watched. I would not venture to declare on my 


own unsupported authority that Rasputine rarely 
visited the palace, at first two or three times a year, 
and but little oftener at the last, but I can state that 
these facts are on record in the police annals of Petro- 
grad and Tsarskoe Selo. In the year of his death, 
1916, Rasputine saw the Emperor exactly twice. 
There is one unfortunate fact in connection with these 
visits. I write it regretfully but it is true, and I can see 
how that circumstance served with some people to put 
a false emphasis on the visits of Rasputine to the Im- 
perial household. In spite of the well-known fact that 
every visit of Rasputine was necessarily a public ap- 
pearance, in full limelight, as it were, the Emperor and 
Empress attempted to throw over his visits a certain 
veil of secrecy. They had done the same thing with 
Dr. Philippe, and I suppose from the same motives. 
Every human being craves a little personal privacy. 
In the most loving family circle who does not at times 
want to be alone with his thoughts or his prayers be- 
hind closed doors? Thus it was with their Majesties. 
Rasputine represented to them hopes and aspirations 
far removed from earthly power and glory, and from 
earthly pain and suffering. They knew that he was a 
simple peasant and that many people of rank in official 
circles thought it strange, some even thought it undigni- 
fied, for their Majesties of great Russia to listen to the 
counsels of so lowly and ignorant a man. For this rea- 
son, I know of no other, the Emperor and Empress 
vainly tried to make the visits of Rasputine as Incon- 
spicuous as possible. He was admitted into a side 
entrance instead of the main doorway; he went upstairs 
by a small staircase; he was received in the private 


apartments and never in the public drawing rooms. It 
was the same in Tsarskoe Selo and in the Crimea, In 
which latter place a day's visit served for a year's 
gossip throughout the entire estate. More than once I 
pointed out to the Empress the futility of the course 
pursued. "You know that before he reaches the 
palace, much less your boudoir, he has been written 
down at least forty times," I reminded her. The 
Empress always agreed. She knew that the police 
were everywhere, Inside and outside the palace, in 
every corridor, at every door. She knew that there 
could be no secrets in the palace, and the Emperor 
knew it as well as she did, yet they persisted in trying 
to shield Rasputlne from the publicity they knew to be 
Inevitable for everyone. 

It was generally In the evening that he was received, 
not because the eternal police vigilance was relaxed at 
that time, but because it was only in the evening that 
the Emperor found leisure for his personal friends. 
In the hour following dinner It sometimes happened 
that little Alexel came downstairs in his blue night- 
gown to talk with his father a few minutes before going 
to bed. When on these occasions Rasputlne was pres- 
ent, the boy and his parents and any intimate friend 
who happened to be in the room would listen fascinated 
while the Strannik talked of Siberia and its peasants, 
of his wanderings through remote corners of Russia, 
and of his sojourn in the Holy Lands. His speech was 
simple, but strangely eloquent and uplifting. Their 
Majesties talked gladly to him of whatever happened 
to be on their minds, the ill health of their only son, 
principally, and he seemed to know how to comfort and 


to give them hope. They were always lighter of heart 
after his visits, and even had I conspired with him to 
gain their friendship the effort would have been quite 
useless and unnecessary. They liked him so well that 
when gossip or newspaper accusations of Rasputine's 
drunkenness and debauchery were brought to their at- 
tention they said only: ''He is hated because we love 
him." And that ended the matter. 

I will say for the Empress that although she had the 
fullest confidence in Rasputine's integrity she thought 
it worth while to make some inquiries into his private 
life in Siberia, where most of his time was spent. On 
two occasions she sent me, with others, to his distant 
village of Pokrovskoe to visit him. I wished then, and 
I do now, that she had selected someone wiser and 
more critical than myself. Of detective ability I pos- 
sess not a trace. With me it is always, what I have 
seen I have seen. In company with Mme. Orloff, 
mother of General Orloff, and with two other women 
and our maids, I made the long journey to Siberia 
leaving the railroad at the little town of Toumean. 
Here Rasputine met us with a clumsy peasant cart 
drawn by two farm horses. In this springless vehicle 
we drove eighty versts across the steppes to the village 
where Rasputine dwelt with his old wife, his three chil- 
dren, and two aged spinsters who helped in the house- 
work and in the care of the fields and the cattle. The 
household was almost Biblical in its bare simplicity, all 
the guests sleeping in an upper chamber on straw mat- 
tresses laid on the rough board floor. Except for the 
beds the rooms were practically without furniture, al- 
though on the walls were ikons before which faint 


tapers burned. We ate our plain meals in the common 
room downstairs, and in the evening there usually came 
four peasant men, devoted friends of Rasputine, who 
were called "the brothers." Sitting around the table 
they sang prayers and psalms with rustic faith and 
fervor. Almost every day we went down to the river 
to watch Rasputine and the brothers, fishermen all, 
draw in their nets, and often we ate our dinner by the 
river, cooking fish over little campfires on the shore, 
sharing in common our raisins, bread, nuts, and per- 
haps a little pastry. The season being Lent we had 
no meat, no milk, nor butter. 

On my return to Tsarskoe Selo I described this pas- 
toral existence to the Empress, and I had to add to my 
observations only that the clergy of the village seemed 
to dislike Rasputine, while the majority of the villagers 
merely took him for granted as one they had long been 
accustomed to. In a later year I was again sent to 
Siberia, this time with Mme. Julia (Lili) Dehn, wife 
of a naval officer on the yacht Standert, and several 
others, and a man servant as my special assistant as I 
was then very lame from the railroad accident which I 
have described. This time we went by boat from 
Toumean to Tobolsk on the River Toura, to view the 
relics of the Metropolitan John of Tobolsk, a sainted 
man of the time of Peter the Great. While In Tobolsk 
we were entertained in the house of the Governor of 
the Department, the same house where in the first 
days of their Siberian exile the Imperial Family were 
lodged. It was a large, very well furnished house on 
the river, but one could see that in winter it must have 
been extremely cold. On our way back we stopped for 


two days at Pokrovskoe, visiting Rasputine and finding 
him exactly as before, the old wife and the serving 
maids still occupied with household tasks and with 
field labor. I may add that in both of these visits I 
went to the famous monastery of Verchotourie, on the 
Ural River, where are kept some deeply venerated 
relics of St. Simeon. In the forests surrounding the 
monastery are many tiny wooden huts in which dwell 
solitary monks or anchorites, and among these was a 
celebrated old monk known as Father Makari. This 
aged and pious monk apparently held Rasputine in 
higher respect than did the village clergy, and they 
talked together like equals and friends, while we lis- 
tened silently but with deep interest. 

The wave of popular opposition against Rasputine 
began, I should say, in the last two and a half years of 
his life. Long after it began, long after his name was 
reviled and execrated in the press and in society, his 
lodgings in Petrograd, where he began to spend longer 
and longer intervals, were constantly crowded with 
beggars and petitioners. These were people of all sta- 
tions who believed that whether he were good or evil 
his influence at Court was limitless. Every kind of 
petty official, every sort of poverty-stricken aspirant 
and grafting politician, and, of course, a whole crew of 
revolutionary agents, spies, and secret police haunted 
the place, pressing on Rasputine papers and petitions 
to be presented to the Emperor. To do Rasputine 
strict justice, he was forever telling the petitioners that 
it would be no good at all for him to present their 
papers, but he did not seem to have strength of mind 
to refuse point-blank to receive them. Often in pity 


for those who were sick and poor, or as he thought 
deserving, he would send them to one or another of his 
rich and influential acquaintances with a note saying: 
"Please, dear friend, receive him." It is very sad to 
reflect that his recommendation was the worst possible 
introduction a poor wretch could bear with him. 

One of the hardest tasks which the Empress imposed 
upon me was the taking of messages, usually about the 
health of Alexei, to these crowded lodgings of Raspu- 
tine. As often as I appeared the people overwhelmed 
me with demands for money, positions, advancement, 
pardons, and what not. It was of no use to assure the 
people that I neither possessed nor desired to possess 
the kind of influence they believed to be mine. It was 
equally useless to assure them that their petitions, if I 
took them, would not be read by the Empress, but 
would merely be referred to her secretary', Count 
Rostovseff. Sometimes I encountered a case of great 
distress which if possible I tried privately to relieve. 
One day I met on the staircase a very poor young stu- 
dent who asked me if I could help him to a warm coat. 
I knew where I could get such a coat and I sent it to the 
student. Months afterwards when I was a prisoner 
in the fortress I received a note from this young man, 
telling me that he prayed daily for my safet}- and re- 
lease. This almost unique instance of gratitude re- 
mains in my mind among memories much less agreeable 
of my visits to the lodgings of Rasputine. 


THERE Is a photograph which, In the last days of 
the Empire, was pubHshed all over Russia, and 
was, I am Informed, also published In western Europe 
and in America. It represents Rasputine sitting like an 
oracle in his lodgings, surrounded by ladles of the 
aristocracy. This photograph Is supposed to Illustrate 
the enormous hold which Rasputine possessed on the 
affections of the women of the Court. In plain lan- 
guage It is assumed to be a representation of Rasputine 
sitting In the midst of his harem. There has been no 
account published which, as far as I know, does not 
dwell on this phase of the Rasputine story, and there 
have been books published In which the most erotic 
letters, purporting to have been written him by the 
Empress herself and even by the innocent young Grand 
Duchesses, have been included, the publishers appar- 
ently never having inquired into their authenticity. 
Knowing that my evidence will be considered of little 
worth, I still have the temerity to state without any 
qualification whatsoever that these stories are without 
the slightest foundation. Rasputine had no harem at 
Court. In fact, I cannot remotely Imagine a woman 
of education and refinement being attracted to him In a 
personal way. I never knew of one being so attracted, 
and although accusations of secret debauchery with 
women of the lower classes were made against him by 



agents of the Okhrana, the special inquiry instituted 
by the Commission of the Provisional Government 
failed to produce any evidence in support of the 
charges. The police were never able to bring forward 
a single woman of any class whom they could accuse 
with Rasputine. 

The photograph, however, is authentic. I figure in 
it myself, therefore I am in a position to explain it. It 
shows a group of women and men who after attending 
early Mass sometimes gathered around Rasputine for 
rehgious discourse, for advice on all manner of things, 
and probably on the part of some for the gratification 
of idle curiosity. I do not know whether or not in 
western countries religion produces in the neurotic and 
shallow-minded a kind of emotional excitement which 
they mistake for faith, but in Russia there was a time 
when this was so. For the most part, however, it was 
really serious people, men and women, who went after 
Mass to listen to the discourses of Rasputine. He 
was, as I have said, an unlettered man, but he knew the 
Scriptures and his interpretations were so keen and so 
original that highly educated people, even learned 
churchmen, liked to listen to them. In matters of faith 
and doctrine he could never be confused or confounded. 
Moreover, his sympathy and his charity were so wide 
and tender that he attracted women of narrow lives 
whose small troubles might have been dismissed as 
trivial by ordinary confessors. For example, many 
lovelorn women (men too) used to go to those morn- 
ing meetings to beg his prayers on their heart's behalf. 
He knew that unsatisfied love is a very real trouble, 
and he was always gentle and patient with such people, 


that is, if their souls were innocent. For irregular love 
affairs he had no patience whatever, and in this con- 
nection I remember an incident which illustrates this 
point, and also his remarkable powers of divination, or 
if you prefer, his keen intuition. A young married 
woman, harmless enough in her intentions, but rather 
frivolous nevertheless, came one morning to Raspu- 
tine's lodgings en route to a rendezvous with a hand- 
some young officer who at the moment strongly 
attracted her. It was her idea to ask Rasputine's 
prayers in behalf of her special desire, but before she 
could say a word to him he gave her a keen glance 
and said : "I am going to relate to you a story. Once 
when I was traveling in Siberia I entered a small rail- 
road station and beheld at a table a monk who recog- 
nized me and begged me to join him in a glass of tea. 
As I approached the table I saw him hastily conceal a 
bottle under the folds of his soutaine. He said: 'You 
are called a saint. Will you not help me to understand 
some of the troubled problems of my life?' I replied 
*Ahl You call me a saint. But why do you at the 
time of asking me to help your troubled soul try to hide 
that bottle under your robe?' " The young woman 
turned deathly pale and without a word rose hastily 
and left the room. 

This is only one of many similar incidents. Once 
at Kiev a Government functionary approached Raspu- 
tine and asked his prayers for one lying very ill. 
Rasputine's amazing eyes gazed into the eyes of the 
other and he said calmly: "I advise you to beseech 
not my prayers but those of Ste. Xenia." The func- 
tionary completely taken aback exclaimed: "How 




could you know that her name was Xenia?" I could 
relate many other such instances which can, of course, 
be attributed to intuition, thought transference, any- 
thing you like. But of true predictions of future 
events made by Rasputine what explanation can be 
given? What of his mysterious powers over the sick? 
In behalf of the suffering little Tsarevitch the Em- 
peror and Empress constantly asked the prayers of 
Rasputine, and the incident which I shall now relate 
will appeal to any mother or father of a suffering child 
and will render less childlike the faith of the afflicted 
parents of the heir to the throne. One day during the 
War the Emperor left Tsarskoe Selo for general head- 
quarters, taking with him as usual the Tsarevitch. 
The child seemed to be in good condition, but a few 
hours after leaving the palace he was taken with a 
nosebleed. This is ordinarily a harmless enough 
manifestation, but in one suffering from Alexei's in- 
curable malady it was a very serious thing. The doc- 
tors tried every known remedy, but the hemorrhage 
became steadily worse until death by exhaustion and 
loss of blood was threatened. I was with the Empress 
when the telegram came announcing the return of the 
Emperor and the boy to Tsarskoe Selo, and I can 
never forget the anguish of mind with which the poor 
mother awaited the arrival of her sick, perhaps her 
dying child. Nor can I ever forget the waxen, grave- 
like pallor of the little pointed face as the boy with 
infinite care was borne into the palace and laid on his 
little white bed. Above the blood-soaked bandages 
his large blue eyes gazed at us with pathos unspeakable, 
and it seemed to all around the bed that the last hour 


of the unhappy child was at hand. The physicians 
kept up their ministrations, exhausting every means 
known to science to stop the incessant bleeding. In 
despair the Empress sent for Rasputine. He came 
into the room, made the sign of the cross over the bed 
and, looking intently at the almost moribund child, said 
quietly to the kneeling parents: "Don't be alarmed. 
Nothing will happen." Then he walked out of the 
room and out of the palace. 

That was all. The child fell asleep, and the next 
day was so well that the Emperor left for his inter- 
rupted visit to the Stavka. Dr. Derevanko and Pro- 
fessor Fedoroff told me afterwards that they did not 
even attempt to explain the cure. It was simply a 
fact. For this and for other like services Rasputine 
never received any money from the Emperor or the 
Empress. Indeed he was never given any money by 
their Majesties except an occasional one-hundred- 
ruble note to pay cab fares and traveling expenses 
when he was sent for. In the last two years of his life 
the rent of his modest lodgings in Petrograd was 
paid. What money he had was received from peti- 
tioners who hoped through him to benefit in high quar- 
ters. Rasputine took this money, but he gave most of 
it to the poor, so that when he died his family was left 
practically penniless. That Rasputine, whatever his 
faults, was no mercenary is the simple truth. As far 
back as 19 13 Kokovseff, Minister of Finance, who dis- 
liked and distrusted Rasputine, offered him 200,000 
rubles if he would leave Petrograd and never return. 
Two hundred thousand rubles was a fortune beyond the 
dream of avarice to a Russian peasant, but Rasputine 


declined it, saying that he was not to be bought by any- 
body. "If their Majesties wish me to leave Petrograd," 
he said, "I will go at once, and for no money at all." 

I know of many cases of illness where the prayers of 
Rasputine were asked, and had he been so minded he 
might have demanded and been given vast sums of 
money. But the fact is he often showed himself ex- 
tremely reluctant to exert whatever strange power he 
possessed. In some instances where sick children were 
involved he would even object, saying: "If God takes 
him now it is perhaps to save him from future sins." 

This indifference to money on the part of Rasputine 
was all the more conspicuous in a country where almost 
every hand was stretched out for reward, graft, or 
blackmail. The episode of one of Rasputine's bitter- 
est enemies, the "mad" monk lUiador, is illuminating. 
Illiador was a person altogether disreputable, an un- 
frocked monk, and in my opinion a man mentally as 
well as morally irresponsible. He made friends with 
certain ministers, among them Chvostoff, one of several 
who, after the death of Stolypine, held for a time the 
portfolio of Minister of the Interior. Between Chvo- 
stoff and Illiador was concocted a plot to assassinate 
Rasputine. This was not successful because Illiador 
made the mistake of sending his wife to Petrograd with 
incriminating documents. But he was able to send a 
woman to Siberia, and she dealt Rasputine a knife 
wound from which he with difficulty recovered. This 
was in 1914. 

After Rasputine the object of Illiador's greatest 
hatred was the Empress. His plot against Rasputine 
failing, he wrote against the Empress one of the most 


scurrilous and obscene books imaginable, but before 
attempting to publish it he sent her word that he would 
sell her the manuscript for sixty thousand rubles. Pub- 
lishers in America, he wrote, would pay him a much 
higher price for the book, but he was willing to sacrifice 
something to save a woman's reputation. To this low 
blackmailer the indignant Empress returned no answer 
at all. Illiador lives in Russia now, a great favorite 
with the Bolsheviki because of his bitter attacks on the 
clergy. But whether or not they permitted him to 
retain his profits on the book against the Empress I do 
not know. 

But what of Rasputine's political influence, his trea- 
son with the Germans? The excuse for his murder 
was that he was leading the Emperor and Empress into 
the German net, persuading them to betray the Allies 
by making a separate peace. If I knew or suspected 
this to be true I would not hesitate to record it here. 
I would not dare to suppress such important historical 
evidence, if I had it, because all that I am writing in 
this book is for the future, not the present; for history, 
not for the ephemeral journalism of the day. Min- 
isters, politicians, churchmc haunted the lodgings of 
Rasputine, and if any man ever had an opportunity 
to mingle in secret diplomacy he was that man. As a 
matter of plain justice to him, I do not believe such 
matters ever interested him. On two occasions of 
which I have knowledge he did give the Emperor po- 
litical advice, and very shrewd advice, although it was 
received with irritation and resentment by his Majesty. 
One of these occasions was in 19 12 when Grand Duke 
Nicholas, whose wife it will be remembered was a 


Montenegran, tried his every power of persuasion to 
bring Russia into the Balkan Wars. Rasputine im- 
plored the Emperor not to listen to this counsel. Only- 
enemies of Russia, he declared, wanted to involve their 
country in that struggle, the inevitable outcome of 
which would be disaster to the Empire and to the house 
of Romanoff. 

Rasputine always dreaded war, predicting that it 
would surely bring ruin to Russia and the monarchy. 
At the beginning of the World War he was lying 
wounded by lUiador's assassin in Siberia, but he sent a 
long telegram to the Emperor begging him to pre- 
serve peace. The Emperor, believing intervention in 
Serbia a point of honor, tore up the telegram and for 
a time appeared rather cold towards Rasputine, But 
as the War progressed they became friends again, for 
after it became inevitable Rasputine wanted the War 
fought through to a victorious end. The last time the 
Emperor saw him, about a month before his assassina- 
tion, he gave a signal proof of this. The meeting took 
place in my house, and I heard every word of the con- 
versation. The Emperor was depressed and pessimis- 
tic. Owing to heavy stori n and lack of transportation 
facilities there had been difficulty in getting foodstuffs 
into Petrograd, and even some army battalions were 
lacking certain necessities. Nature itself, said the 
Emperor, seemed to be working against Russia's suc- 
cess in the War, to which Rasputine replied strongly 
advising the Emperor never, on any account, to be 
tempted to give up the struggle. The country that 
held out the longest against adverse circumstances, he 
said, would certainly win the War. 


As Rasputine was leaving the house the Emperor 
asked him, as usual, for his blessing, but Rasputine re- 
plied : "This time it is for you to bless me, not I you." 
Finally at parting he humbly begged the Emperor to 
do everything he could In behalf of the wounded and 
of war orphans, reminding him that all Russia was 
giving its nearest and dearest for his sake. Did Ras- 
putine on this day have a premonition of the fate that 
was so soon to overtake him? I cannot answer that 
question. It is impossible for me to know with any cer- 
tainty whether or not this strange man was actually 
gifted with the spirit of prophecy or whether his fre- 
quent forecastings of truth were simply fruits of a 
mind more than normally keen and observant. All I 
can do, all I have attempted to do, is to picture Raspu- 
tine as I knew him. I never once saw him otherwise 
than I have described. I knew that he was reputed to 
drink and to indulge in other reprehensible practices. I 
heard, I suppose, every wild tale that was told of him. 
But no one ever presented to the Imperial Family or to 
myself any evidence, any facts in support of these ac- 
cusations. It is a matter of record, and this the his- 
torians of the future will stress, that this man was 
called a criminal, but that he was never meted out the 
common justice which is supposed to be the right of the 
most abandoned criminal. He was accused of name- 
less crimes and he was executed for those crimes. But 
he was denied even the rough justice of a trial by his 
self-appointed judges. Did "Tsarist" Russia ever do 
such a thing to a man caught red-handed in the murder 
of an Emperor? 

I have added as an appendix to this book a document 


which has been published in Russian and French, but 
which I believe appears here for the first time in Eng- 
lish. It is the statement of Vladimir Michailovitch 
Roudnefli, a judge of a superior court in Ekaterinoslav, 
one of a number of distinguished jurists appointed by 
Kerensky, when Minister of Justice in the Provisional 
Government, to a special High Commission of Inquiry 
and Investigation into the Acts of the Sovereigns and 
other prominent personages before the Revolution of 
1 9 17. Judge Roudneff, with great courage and hon- 
esty, made an effort to sift the evidence against Raspu- 
tine and to separate truth from mere rumor. That he 
was unable to treat the matter in a mood of perfect 
judicial calm, although he earnestly wished to do so, 
is proof enough of the madness of the Russian mind in 
that time of turmoil and bewilderment. Anyone at all 
familiar with rules of evidence will perceive how, with 
the best intentions. Judge Roudneff often offers opinion 
where facts alone are called for. A great many of his 
statements, if given in a court of justice, would in any 
civilized country be challenged and probably ruled out. 
However, the statement is valuable because it is the 
unique attempt of a justice-loving individual to escape 
from the mob mind of 19 17 Russia and to present im- 
partially the known facts about Rasputine. For his 
honesty in insisting that the facts be made public Judge 
Roudneff was ignominiously removed from the commis- 
sion by its president. Judge Mouravieff. As far as I 
know and believe, none of the other members of the 
commission attempted to publish their findings. 

I shall always feel that it was a great pity that 
Rasputine was not arrested, tried in the presence of his 


accusers and of all available witnesses, and if found 
guilty punished to the very limit of the law. As it was 
he was merely lynched and the question of his guilt or 
innocence will ever remain unsolved. Latest accounts 
certainly absolve the Empress of Russia from being his 
tool and his guilty partner, and death, whether by as- 
sassination or at the hand of public justice, has the same 
end, the righteous judgment of God, and from that 
perfect justice not the worst enemy of the man could 
bar the soul of Rasputine. 

One thing more I deeply regret and that is that 
Judge Roudneff could not have tried Rasputine in per- 
son as he did try me. I appeared before him no less 
than fifteen times and I always found him studious at 
getting at the truth, separating facts from hysterical 
gossip, all in the interests of justice and of historical 
records. In his reports concerning me there are some 
errors, but not serious ones, some confusion of dates, 
but nothing important, and once or twice some trifling 
injustice for which I bear not the slightest malice. 
Judge Roudneff, for example, accuses me of loquacity, 
and in my testimony of jumping irrelevantly from one 
thought to another. I cannot help wondering if even 
a learned judge, after weeks of imprisonment, accom- 
panied by inhuman insults and bodily injuries, and for 
the first time given an opportunity for explanation and 
self-defense, would have spoken in quite a calm and 
normal manner. However, I do not complain of any- 
thing Judge Roudneff says of me. I am grateful to the 
only Russian in a position of authority who has had 
the chivalry to give me the benefit of a reasonable 


All others, including members of the Romanoff 
family who have known me from my earliest childhood, 
who in youth danced and chatted with me at Court 
balls, who knew my mother and my father, with his 
long and honorable record, have assailed me without a 
shred of mercy. They have represented me as a com- 
mon upstart, an outsider in society who managed 
through unworthy schemes to worm her way into the 
confidence of the Empress. They have represented me 
as an abandoned woman, a criminal, a would-be poi- 
soner of the Tsarevitch. They have been so loud in 
their denunciations of one defenseless woman that they 
have succeeded in concealing the fact of their own par- 
ticipation in events for which the Sovereigns were 
brought to ruin. They have thrown a blind before 
their responsibility for bringing Rasputine to the 
Court of Russia. Never do they allow it to be remem- 
bered that it was the Grand Dukes Nicholas and Peter 
and their Montenegran wives, Stana and Melitza, who 
introduced the Emperor and Empress to the poor 
peasant pilgrim who, had he never been taken up by 
these aristocrats, might have lived out an obscure, and 
perhaps valuable, existence in far Siberia. It was easier 
for these powerful ones, these sheltered women, these 
noble gentlemen, to avoid explanation of their part in 
the Russian tragedy and to take refuge behind the 
skirts of a woman who, after the overthrow of the 
Imperial Family, had not a friend on earth to defend 
or to protect her. 


TWO days after the return of the Empress from 
her visit to Novgorod, in the earliest hours of 
December 17 (December 31, Western Calendar) was 
struck the first blow of the "bloodless" Russian Revo- 
lution, the assassination of Rasputine. On the after- 
noon of December 16 (December 30) I was sent by 
the Empress on an errand, entirely non-political, to 
Rasputine's lodgings. I went, as always, reluctantly, 
because I knew the evil construction which would be 
placed on my errand by any of the conspirators who 
happened to see me. Yet, as in duty bound, I went. 
I stayed the shortest possible time, but in that brief 
interval I heard Rasputine say that he expected to pay 
a late evening visit to the Yusupoff Palace to meet 
Grand Duchess Irene, wife of Prince Felix Yusupoff. 
Although I knew that Felix had often visited Raspu- 
tine it struck me as odd that he should go to their house 
for the first time at such an unseemly hour. But to my 
question Rasputine replied that Felix did not wish his 
parents to know of his visit. As I was leaving the 
place Rasputine said a strange thing to me. "What 
more do you want?" he asked in a low voice. "Al- 
ready you have received all." All that his prayers 
could give me? Did he mean that? 

That evening in the Empress's boudoir I mentioned 



this proposed midnight visit, and the Empress said in 
some surprise: "But there must be some mistake. 
Irene is in the Crimea, and neither of the older Yusup- 
offs are in town." Once again she repeated thought- 
fully : "There is surely a mistake," and then we began 
to talk of other things. The next morning soon after 
breakfast I was called on the telephone by one of the 
daughters of Rasputine, both of whom were being 
educated in Petrograd. In some anxiety the young 
girl told me that her father had gone out the night 
before in the Yusupoff motor car and had not returned. 
I was startled, of course, and even a little frightened, 
but I did not then guess the real significance of her 
news. When I reached the palace I gave the message 
to the Empress, who listened with a grave face but 
with little comment. A few minutes later there came 
a telephone call from Protopopoff in Petrograd. The 
police, he said, had reported to him that some time 
after the last midnight a patrolman standing near the 
entrance of the Yusupoff Palace had been startled by 
the report of a pistol. Ringing the doorbell, he was 
met by a Duma member named Puritchkevitch who ap- 
peared to be in an advanced stage of intoxication. In 
answer to the policeman's inquiry as to whether there 
was trouble in the house the drunken Puritchkevitch 
said in a jocular tone that it was nothing, nothing at 
all, only they had just killed Rasputine. The police- 
man, probably a none too intelligent specimen, took it 
as a casual joke of one of the high-born. They were 
always joking about Rasputine. The man moved on, 
but somewhat later he decided that he ought to report 
the matter to headquarters, which he did, but even then 



his superiors appear to have been too incredulous to 
act at once. 

Protopopoff's message, however, so disquieted the 
Empress that she asked me to summon another of her 
trusted friends, Mme. Dehn, whose name I have men- 
tioned before. Mme. Dehn came and we tallced over 
the mystery together, but still without conviction that 
Puritchkevitch's reckless statement contained any real 
truth. Later in the day, however, came a telephone 
message from Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovitch, asking 
to be allowed to take tea with the Empress that after- 
noon at five. The message was conveyed to tlhie 
Empress, who, pale and reflective, answered formally 
that she did not care just then to receive his Highness. 
Dmitri took the reply in bad grace, insisting that he 
must see the Empress as he had something special to 
tell her. Again the Empress refused, this time even 
more curtly. Almost immediately afterwards, almost 
as if the two men were in the same room, there came a 
telephone message from Felix Yusupoff asking if I 
would see him at tea, or later in the day if I so pre- 
ferred. I answered that the Empress did not wish me 
to receive any visitors that day, whereupon Felix de- 
manded an audience with the Empress that he might 
give her a true account of what had occurred. Her 
Majesty's reply was : "If Felix has anything to say let 
him write to me." Several times before the day ended 
telephone messages came from Felix to me, but none 
of these would the Empress allow me to answer. 

Felix finally wrote a letter to the Empress. I cannot 
quote this letter verbatim, but I remember exactly its 
contents. By the honor of his house Prince Felix 


Yusupoff swore to his Sovereign Empress that the 
rumor of Rasputine's visit to his home was without 
any foundation whatever. He had indeed seen Raspu- 
tine in the interests of Irene's health, but he had never 
decoyed the man to his palace, as charged. There 
had been a party there, on the night in question, just a 
few friends, including Dmitri, to celebrate the opening 
of Felix's new apartments. All, he confessed, became 
drunk, and some foolish and reckless things were said 
and done. By chance, on leaving the house, one of the 
guests had shot a dog in the courtyard. That was 
absolutely all. This letter was not answered, but was 
turned over to the Minister of Justice. 

Thoroughly aroused, the Empress now ordered 
Protopopoff to make an investigation of the whole 
affair. She called into council also Minister of War 
Belaieff, a good man, afterwards murdered by the 
Bolsheviki. The police, at their commands, went to 
the deserted Yusupoff palace, first searching for and 
finding the body of the dog which Felix said they had 
shot. But the bullet hole in the dog's head had let out 
little blood, and when the men entered the palace they 
found it a veritable shambles of blood and disorder. 
Evidences of a terrific struggle were found in the down- 
stairs study of Prince Felix, on the stairs leading to an 
upper room, and in the room itself. Then, indeed, the 
whole power of the police was invoked, and somebody 
was found to testify that in the dead of night a motor 
car without any lights was seen leaving the Yusupoff 
Palace and disappearing in the direction of the Neva. 
Winter nights in Russia are very dark, as everyone 
knows, and the car was soon swallowed up in the 


shadows. The river was next searched, and by a hole 
in the ice, not far from Krestovsky Island, the police 
found a man's golosh. By Protopopoff's orders divers 
immediately searched the hole in the ice, and from it 
was soon dragged the frozen body of Rasputine. Arms 
and legs were tightly bound with cords, but the unfortu- 
nate man had managed to work loose his right hand 
which was frozen in a last attempt to make the sign of 
the cross. The body was taken to the Chesma Hospital, 
where an autopsy was performed. Although there 
were bullet holes in the back and innumerable cuts and 
wounds all over the body, the lungs were full of water, 
proving that they had thrown him alive into the icy 
river, and that death had occurred by drowning. 

As soon as the news became public all Petrograd 
burst into a wild orgy of rejoicing. The "beast" was 
slain, the "evil genius" had disappeared never to re- 
turn. There was no limit to the wild hysteria of the 
hour. In the midst of these demonstrations came a 
telephone message from Protopopoff asking the Em- 
press's advice as to an immediate burial place for the 
murdered man. Ultimately the body would be sent to 
his Siberian village, but in the present circumstances 
the Minister of the Interior thought a postponement 
of this advisable. The Empress agreed, and she re- 
plied that a temporary interment might be arranged 
at Tsarskoe Selo. On December 29 (January 12) the 
coffin, accompanied by a kind-hearted sister of mercy, 
arrived at Tsarskoe. That same day the Emperor 
came home from the front, and in the presence of the 
Imperial Family and myself the briefest of services 
were held. On the dead man's breast had been laid an 


ikon from Novgorod, signed on the reverse by the 
Empress and her daughters as a last token of respect. 
The coffin was not even buried in consecrated ground, 
but in a corner of the palace park, and as it was being 
lowered a few prayers were said by Father Alexander, 
priest of the Imperial chapel. This is a true account 
of the burial of Rasputine, about which so many fan- 
tastic tales have been embroidered. 

The horror and shock caused by this lynching, for it 
can be called by no other name, completely shattered 
the nerves of the family. The Emperor was affected 
less by the deed itself than by the fact that it was the 
work of members of his own family. "Before all 
Russia," he exclaimed, "I am filled with shame that the 
hands of my kinsmen are stained with the blood of a 
simple peasant." Before this he had often shown dis- 
gust at the excesses of the Grand Dukes and their fol- 
lowers, but now he expressed himself as being entirely 
through with them all. 

But Yusupoff and the others were by no means 
through with the Rasputine affair. Now that they 
had murdered and were applauded for the deed by all 
society, it seemed to them that they were in a position 
to claim full legal immunity. Grand Duke Alexander 
Michailovitch, the Emperor's brother-in-law, went to 
Dobrovolsky, Minister of Justice, and with a good 
deal of swagger told him that it was the will of the 
family — that is, of the Grand Dukes — that the whole 
matter should be quietly dropped. The next day, De- 
cember 21 (January 5), Alexander Michailovitch 
drove with his oldest son to Tsarskoe Selo and, without 
the slightest assumption of deference or respect, en- 


tered the Emperor's study, demanding, in the name of 
the family, that no further investigation of the manner 
of Rasputine's death be made. In a voice that could 
easily be heard in the corridor outside the Grand Duke 
shouted that should the Emperor refuse this demand 
the throne itself would fall. The Emperor's answer 
to this insolence was an order of banishment to their 
estates of Nicholai Michailovitch, Felix, and Dmitri. 
At this the wrath of the Grand Dukes knew no bounds., 
A letter blazing with anger and impudence, signed by 
the whole family, was rushed to the Emperor, but his 
only comment was a single sentence written on the mar- 
gin: "Nobody has a right to commit murder." Fol- 
lowing this came a cringing letter from Dmitri who, 
like Felix, tried to lie himself out of all complicity in 
the crime. On his sacred honor, he declared he had 
had nothing to do with it. If the Emperor would only 
consent to see him he promised to establish his Inno- 
cence. But the Emperor would not consent to see 
Dmitri. Pale and stern he moved through the rooms 
or sat so darkly plunged in thought that none of us 
ventured to disturb or even to speak to him. Into this 
troubled atmosphere a letter was brought to the Em- 
peror by the Minister of the Interior, who had a right 
to seize suspicious mail matter. It was a letter written 
by the Princess Yusupoff to the Grand Duchess Xenia, 
sister of the Tsar and mother of Felix Yusupoff's wife. 
It was a most indiscreet letter to be sent at such a time, 
for it was a clear admission of the guilt of all the plot- 
ters. Although as a mother (she wrote) she felt 
deeply her son's position, she congratulated the Grand 
Duchess Zenia on her husband's conduct In the affair. 



Sandro, she said, had saved the whole situation, evi- 
dently meaning that his demand for immunity for all 
concerned would have to be granted. She was only 
sorry that the principals had not been able to bring 
their enterprise to its desired end. However, there 
remained only the task of confining Her. Before the 
affair was finally concluded, she feared, they might send 
Nicholai Nicholaievitch and Stana to their estates. 
How stupid to have sent away Nicholai Michailovitch ! 

This was by no means the end of letters and tele- 
grams seized by the police and brought to the palace. 
Many were written by relatives and close friends, 
people of the highest rank, and they all revealed a 
depth of callousness and treachery undreamed of be- 
fore by the unhappy Sovereigns. When the Empress 
read these communications and realized that her near- 
est and dearest connections were In the ranks of her 
enemies, her head sank on her breast, her eyes grew 
dark with sorrow, and her whole countenance seemed 
to wither and grow old. A few days later the Grand 
Duchess Serge sent her sister several sacred ikons from 
the shrine of Saratoff. The Empress, without even 
looking at them, ordered them sent back to the convent 
of the Grand Duchess in Moscow. 

I should add that from the day of the assassination 
of Rasputine my mail was full of anonymous letters 
threatening me with death. The Empress, perhaps 
more than any of us. Instinctively aware of the endless 
ramifications of the Rasputine affair, commanded me 
in terms that admitted of no argument to leave my 
house and to take up residence in the palace. Sad as 
I was to leave the peace of my little home, I had no 


alternative than to obey, and with my maid I moved 
into two rooms in the Grand Ducal wing of the palace, 
occupied also by maids of honor and reached by the 
fourth large entrance to the palace. From that day, 
by command of their Majesties, every movement of 
mine was closely guarded. The soldier Jouk was as- 
signed to my service and without him I never left the 
palace even to visit my hospital. When in the Febru- 
ary following my only brother was married I was not 
allowed to attend the wedding. 

Little by little, in spite of fears, the palace took on 
a certain air of tranquillity. In the evenings we sat in 
the mauve boudoir of the Empress; and as of old, the 
Emperor read aloud. At Christmas their Majesties 
saw that the customary trees and gifts were sent to the 
hospitals and that the usual presents were distributed 
to the servants. The children too had their Christmas 
celebration, but over us all hung a cloud of sorrow and 
of disillusionment. Never had the Emperor and Em- 
press of Russia, rulers of nearly two hundred million 
souls, seemed so lonely or so helpless. Deserted and 
betrayed by their relatives, calumniated by men who. In 
the eyes of the outside world, seemed to represent the 
Russian people, they had no one left except a few faith- 
ful friends, and the Emperor's chosen ministers every 
one of whom was under the ban of popular obloquy. 
Most of them were accused of being the appointees of 
Rasputine, but this at least I am in a position to deny. 

Sturmer, Minister of the Interior, and afterwards 
Prime Minister, was, according to Witte, recommended 
to the Tsar after the assassination of Pleve. The 
well-known fact that Sturmer was head of the nobility 


in the Government of Tver, that he was possessed of 
enormous estates, and that he had held several impor- 
tant positions at Court, ought to be sufficient proof 
that he needed no help from Rasputine or any other 
man. Sturmer was an old man, not brilliant perhaps, 
but certainly a man of high principles. He was ar- 
rested by the Provisional Government, and in the 
fortress suffered such frightful hardships that he died 
within a day after the Government, unable to fasten on 
him the slightest guilt, released him from prison. The 
Social Revolutionary Sokoloff, a just man, if wrong- 
headed, has declared publicly that had any Constitu- 
tional Assembly been held in Russia, the responsibility 
of Sturmer's death would have been laid upon Milukoff 

As for Protopopoff, he was appointed by the Em- 
peror mainly on his record as a confidential agent of 
the Duma, and as a personal representative of Rod- 
zianko, President of the Fourth Duma. After Proto- 
popoff's return from an important foreign mission on 
behalf of the Duma he was presented to the Emperor 
at G. H. Q., and in a letter to the Empress a few days 
later, he expressed himself as delighted with the man. 
The appointment was made in one of those moments 
of impulse characteristic of Nicholas II, yet it must 
have been the result of some reflection, as it was the 
Emperor's expressed desire at this time to name a Min- 
ister of the Interior who could work in harmony with 
the Duma. Protopopoff, who, aside from his relations 
with Rodzianko, had for many years been a delegate 
from his own Zemstvo to the Union of Zemstvos, 
naturally appealed to the Emperor as an ideal popular 


candidate. No one could have been more astonished 
than he when, almost immediately after his appoint- 
ment, Rodzianko and almost the entire majority party 
in the Duma joined in a clamor for Protopopoff's re- 
moval. The only charge I ever heard against him was 
that his mind had suddenly failed. Protopopoff, who 
was a man of high breeding, was nevertheless exceed- 
ingly nervous, and I always thought, somewhat weak- 
willed. He was not the infirm old man he has 
generally been represented, being about sixty-four years 
of age with white hair and mustache and young, bright 
black eyes. That he had plenty of physical and moral 
courage was proved by his conduct after the Revolu- 
tion. Walking to the door of the council chamber of 
the Duma he announced himself thus: "I am Proto- 
popoff. Arrest me if you like." He was arrested by 
orders of Rodzianko, but was released later, only to 
meet death by the bullets of the Bolsheviki. That 
Protopopoff was on friendly terms with Rasputine is 
true, but that Rasputine had anything to do with his 
appointment, or with his retention In office after the 
attack by the Duma, is simply absurd. 

Maklakoff, Minister of the Interior before Proto- 
popoff, was a former governor of Chernigoff. The 
Emperor met him in the course of a journey to the 
famous fete of Poltava, a jubilee of the wars of Peter 
the Great. The acquaintance was made in the leisure 
of a boat tr'p, and the Emperor, in another of his fits 
of impulsiveness, decided that he had found an ideal 
Minister of the Interior. Their friendship deepened 
with time, and the Emperor found great satisfaction 
in his new minister's reports, which he declared re- 


fleeted his own point of view. Nothing against the 
administration of Maklakoff was ever even whispered 
until late in 1914, when Nicholai Nicholaievitch, as 
supreme commander of the Russian forces in the field, 
suddenly demanded his demission. Grand Duke 
Nicholas, It must be said, continually Interfered with 
the affairs of the interior government, with which as 
military chief he had nothing whatever to do, but In 
the early days of the War the Emperor seemed to 
think it the part of wisdom to suffer this irregularity. 
Reluctantly he yielded to the request for Maklakoff's 
demission, saying to him with genuine regret: "They 
demand it, and at such a time I cannot stand against 

In the place of Maklakoff was named Tcherbatkofif, 
a friend and protege of Nicholai Nicholaievitch, a man 
whose former office had been head of the remount de- 
partment of the State. Doubtless he knew a great 
deal about horses, but of the interior affairs of State 
he knew so little that even the influence of Grand Duke 
Nicholas was powerless to retain him in office longer 
than two months. 

Tcherbatkoff was followed by Khvostoff who, pre- 
vious to his appointment, was an entire stranger to 
Rasputlne. Khvostoff had made a record as governor 
of Nizjni Novgorod, and afterwards as a vigorous 
anti-German orator In the Duma. He was also sup- 
posed to be a devoted friend of the Imp-rial Family. 
Soon after his appointment Khvostoff began sedulously 
to cultivate the friendship of Rasputlne, and it Is a mat- 
ter of police record that this Minister of the Interior 
frequently played on Rasputine's unfortunate weakness 


for drink. Possibly he thought that by getting the 
poor man intoxicated he could worm from him the 
many Court secrets he was supposed to possess. Fail- 
ing in this Khvostoff began, with the help of Chief of 
Police Belezky, a plot against Rasputine which nearly 
succeeded in the latter's assassination. This being dis- 
covered the demission of Khvostoff became imperative. 
Soukhomlinoff, who when I knew him was an old 
man of seventy-five, was a former military governor of 
Kiev, and before his appointment as Minister of War, 
had been a great favorite of the Emperor. That he 
showed brilliant ability in the mobilization of the Rus- 
sian Army in 19 14 was admitted by the Allied Govern- 
ments, and in fact no intrigue against him developed 
until some time after the beginning of the War. His 
principal enemies were Grand Duke Nicholas, General 
Polivanoff, and the notorious Goutchkoff. In my 
opinion their propaganda against him was instigated 
solely with the object of impairing the prestige of the 
Emperor. The crimes laid at the door of Soukhom- 
linoff were almost countless. He was accused of with- 
holding ammunition from the armies, of harboring 
German spies in his house, and in general of being 
completely incapable of performing his duties of office. 
Of him the English historian Wilton says that time 
alone will prove whether the odium of the Russian 
war scandals rested on Soukhomlinoff or on Grand 
Duke Nicholas. At all events it was poor old Souk- 
homlinoff who was arrested, tried before a tribunal of 
the Provisional Government, and sentenced to life im- 
prisonment. His young wife, who was arrested with 
him, occupied a cell next to mine in the Fortress of 


Peter and Paul, and without regard to the charges 
brought against her, I had reason constantly to admire 
the courage and self-possession with which she bore the 
hardships of prison life. So great was her dignity and 
self-command that she became universally respected by 
the soldiers, and I am confident that this alone saved us 
both from far worse indignities than those which we 
were called upon to bear. In prison Mme. Soukhom- 
linoff managed to keep herself constantly occupied. 
She wrote and read whenever writing materials and 
books were procurable, and her clever fingers fashioned 
out of scraps of the miserable prison bread really 
beautiful sprays of flowers. For coloring matter she 
used the paint from a moldering blue stripe on the 
walls of her cell, and scraps of red paper in which tea 
was wrapped. After months of imprisonment, bravely 
endured, Mme. Soukhomlinoff was brought to trial be- 
fore a court of the Provisional Government. Her 
examination was of the most searching character, but 
at its close she left the courtroom fully acquitted, to 
the applause of the numerous spectators. Taking ad- 
vantage of an amnesty pronounced some time later 
Mme. Soukhomlinoff got her aged husband released 
from prison and saw him safely to Finland. It is. 
rather an anticlimax to the story that after so many 
trials borne together the marriage of the Soukhom- 
linoffs was dissolved, Mme. Soukhomlinoff marrying a 
young Georgian ofiicer with whom she later perished 
under the Bolshevist terror. 

One more person of whom I can speak with knowl- 
edge was, although not a minister, falsely alleged to be 
an appointee of Rasputine. This was the Metro- 


politan Pitirim, a man of impeccable honesty and very 
liberal views regarding Church administration. The 
Emperor met him in late 19 14 on one of his visits to 
the Caucasus, Pitirim then being Exarch of Georgia. 
Not only the Emperor but his entire suite were en- 
chanted by the charming manners, the piety, and learn- 
ing of the Exarch, and when, a little later, the Empress 
met the Emperor at Veronesh, he told her that he had 
Pitirim in mind for Metropolitan of Petrograd. Al- 
most immediately after his appointment the propa- 
gandists began to connect his elevation with the 
Rasputine influence, but the truth is that the two men 
were never at any time on terms of more than formal 
acquaintanceship. As for their Majesties, they liked 
and respected Pitirim but he never was an intimate 
member of their household. Practically all their con- 
versations which I overheard concerned the state of 
the Church in Georgia, which Pitirim insisted was 
lower than in other parts of the Empire. The Church 
of Georgia, Pitirim alleged, received too little support 
from the State, although it deserved as much if not 
more than others, because Georgian Christianity is 
the oldest in all Russia. According to tradition this 
Church was established by the Holy Virgin herself 
who, after a shipwreck off Mount Athos, visited 
Georgia, converted its chiefs and established the first 
Christian temple. Pitirim was essentially a church- 
man, yet he always advocated a certain separation of 
Church and State. That is, he desired the establish- 
ment of a parish system whereby the support of the 
Church should be the responsibility of the people 
rather than of the Imperial Government. Unworldly 


to the last degree, he nevertheless came in for his full 
share of slander and abuse. After my arrest by the 
Provisional Government my mother visited Kerensky 
in my behalf, and was astounded when he brutally told 
her that one of the charges against me was that all my 
diamonds were gifts from Pitirim, the inference be- 
ing that we were on unduly intimate terms. 

Another high personage to whom I wish to pay the 
tribute of just appreciation is Count Fredericks, chief 
minister of the Court. This honorable gentleman had 
spent almost his entire life in the service of the Im- 
perial Family, having first been attached to the person 
of Alexander III. Nicholas II and his family he served 
with ability, discretion, and rare devotion. In virtue 
of his office he had to deal personally with the affairs 
of the Grand Dukes, their complicated financial trans- 
actions, their morganatic marriages, and other con- 
fidential affairs. Everyone, except those of the Grand 
Dukes who with reason had earned his contempt, loved 
this charming man whom their Majesties usually spoke 
of as "our old man." Count Fredericks, in his turn, 
always called them "mes enfants." His house was to 
me for many years a second home, his daughters, the 
elder Mme. Voyeikoff, and the younger one, Emma, 
being among my dearest friends. Emma, who suffered 
a painful curvature of the spine, had the compensa- 
tion of a rarely beautiful singing voice with which she 
often charmed the Emperor and Empress. Count 
Fredericks was arrested by the Provisional Govern- 
ment, but owing to his great age, was afterwards 

The charge has often been brought against Nicholas 


II that he surrounded himself with inferior men. The 
fact of the case is that in the beginning of his reign he 
chose as his chief advisers men of ability and integrity 
who had been friends of his father, Alexander III. 
Later he chose men who in his opinion were the best 
ones available, and it must be admitted that there 
were few men of first-class ability among whom he 
could choose. The events of the War and the Revolu- 
tion prove this, for neither of these two terrible emer- 
gencies produced in Russia a single man of conspicuous 
merit. Not one real leader appeared then nor in the 
years which have since elapsed. Truly has a dis- 
tinguished American writer pointed out that never 
could Bolshevism and its insane philosophy have taken 
such strong roots in Russia, had not the soil been pre- 
viously so well prepared. Every Russian who really 
loved his country must admit the truth of this state- 
ment. Too many exiled Russians, however, still cling 
to the delusion that some outside influence was the 
cause of their country's downfall. Let them acknowl- 
edge the truth that it was Russians themselves, es- 
pecially Russians of the privileged classes, who prin- 
cipally are responsible for the catastrophe. For years 
before the Revolution the national spirit was in a state 
of decline. Few men or women cherished ideals of 
duty for duty's sake. Patriotism was practically ex- 
tinct. Family life was weakened, and in the last days, 
the morale of the whole people was lower than in 
almost any other country of the civilized world. 

May the blood of the thousands of innocents who 
have perished in War and Revolution wipe out the 
sins of the old hard-hearted and decadent Russia. 


May the millions still living, in exile and under Com- 
munist oppression, learn that only by repentance and 
by toleration of others' weaknesses can there be any 
possibility of a restoration of national life. Not by 
any outside help but by our own efforts, by loyal Rus- 
sians coming together, not as political groups but as 
compatriots, can great Russia rise again out of her 
shame and desolation and become once more a nation 
among the nations of the earth. 


FOR two months after the assassination of 
Rasputine the Emperor remained at Tsarskoe 
Selo, but he was by no means idle. In fact his whole 
heart and mind were occupied, not so much with the 
scandal that had reached its tragic climax in the 
Yusupoff Palace, but with the War which at that 
moment seemed to favor Russian arms. According 
to our advices the food shortage in Germany and in 
Turkey had become acute, and the Emperor believed 
that a vigorous spring offensive might bring the War 
to a speedy close. In his billiard room were spread 
out a large number of military maps which no one of 
the household, not even the Empress, was invited to in- 
spect. The Emperor spent hours over these maps and 
his plan of a spring campaign, and when he left the 
billiard room he locked the door and put the key in 
his pocket, I had never seen him more completely the 
soldier, the commander in chief of a great army. All 
this time, from December, 1916, to February, 1917, 
the Russian front was comparatively quiet, furious 
snowstorms preventing the advance either of our own 
or the enemy's forces. Alas! The storms interfered 
also with railroad transport and Petrograd and Mos- 
cow were beginning to feel the pinch of hunger, a 
fact that gave their Majesties constant concern. 

Meanwhile the Grand Duke Alexander Michailo- 



vitch persisted in his demand for an interview with 
the Empress, and as his letters to her failed of their 
object he began to write to the Grand Duchess Olga. 
The Empress, whose courage was great enough to 
enable her to ignore any possible danger to herself, 
decided to see the man and once for all let him have 
his say. In this decision the Emperor concurred, but 
he stipulated that he should be present in case the con- 
versation should become unduly disagreeable. The 
Emperor's aide-de-camp for the day happened to be a 
spirited young officer. Lieutenant Linevitch, who after 
luncheon on the day set for the audience, lingered in 
the palace, apparently occupied in an amusing puzzle 
game with Tatiana. Afterwards Linevitch told me 
that so well did he know the extent ©f the Grand Ducal 
cabal, and especially the character of Alexander 
Michailovitch, that he had remained on purpose and 
that his sword had been ready at any moment to 
rescue the Empress from insult or from attempted as- 
sassination. As we expected the Grand Duke had 
nothing new to say to the Empress, but merely reiter- 
ated in more than usually violent terms the demand for 
Protopopoff's dismissal and for a constitutional form 
of government. The answer to these demands was as 
usual — everything necessary after the War, no funda- 
mentally dangerous changes while the Germans re- 
mained on our soil. The Grand Duke, purple with 
anger, rushed out of the Empress's sitting room, but 
instead of leaving the palace, as he was expected to do, 
he entered the library, ordered pens and paper and 
began to write a letter to the Emperor's brother, 
Michail Alexandrovitch. No sooner had he begun his 


epistle than he perceived standing respectfully in the 
room the aide-de-camp Linevitch, whom, after a more 
or less civil greeting, he tried to dismiss. "You may 
go now," he said, coldly polite, but the astute Linevitch 
replied with ceremony: "No, your Highness, I am on 
service today and as long as your Highness is here it 
is not permitted for me to leave." In a fury Alexander 
Michailovitch got up and left the palace. 

Men like Linevitch and many others, as faithful as 
ever to their Majesties, saw the threatening tempest 
more clearly than those within palace walls could 
possibly see it. The day after the visit of Alexander 
Michailovitch I received a call from one of the finest 
of the Romanoff connections, Duke Alexander of 
Luchtenberg. Painfully agitated, the Duke told me 
that he wanted me to help him to induce the Emperor 
to take a remarkable, indeed an unprecedented step. 
At the time of his accession to the throne every member 
of the family, It is well known, must make a solemn 
vow of fealty to the Tsar, and the Duke of Luchten- 
berg now begged me to persuade the Emperor, through 
the Empress, to exact from all the family a renewal of 
this vow. For the lives and safety of the Imperial 
Family the Duke believed this to be absolutely es- 
sential. "None of them are loyal, not one," he said 
earnestly. "And if the Emperor values the lives of 
his wife and children he must force the Grand Dukes 
and their families to declare themselves." Quite 
staggered, I replied that it was impossible for me to 
make such a proposition to their Majesties, but I 
added that the Duke himself, as a member of the 
family, might with entire propriety do so, and thus 


the matter was decided. Of the details of the conver- 
sation between the Emperor and his kinsman I know 
nothing, but I know that the conversation took place, 
because later the Emperor remarked in my hearing 
that "Sandro" Luchtenberg, in the kindness of his 
heart, had made a great matter out of a trifle, and he 
added, "Of course I could not ask of my own family 
the thing he suggested." 

As one more indication of the gathering storm there 
came to me at my hospital from Saratoff an old man 
so feeble and so deaf that he had to bring with him a 
woman relative who through long familiarity was able 
to act as an interpreter in his conversations. This old 
man represented an organization known as the Union 
of the Russian People, a large group devoted to the 
Empire and to the persons of their Majesties. With 
intense emotion he told me that his organization had 
incontestable proofs of most treacherous propaganda 
which was being circulated by the Union of Zemstvos 
and Towns, under the personal direction of Goutchkoff 
and Rodzianko. He had brought with him docu- 
mentary proofs of his assertions and he implored me 
to help him lay his proofs before the Emperor. I com- 
municated his message to the Emperor, but as he was 
that day importantly engaged he suggested that the 
Empress might receive him instead. This she con- 
sented to do, but after an hour's conversation she sent 
the old man away, touched by his devotion but uncon- 
vinced of the gravity of the situation as he presented it. 

To relieve somewhat the dullness and gloom that 
had settled on the palace we organized in those early 
winter days of 19 17 a series of chamber-music recitals. 


the performers being Rumanian musicians who had 
been playing very beautifully in the convalescent wards 
of the Tsarskoe Selo hospitals. At the request of 
the Empress I arranged for performances in my own 
apartments in the palace, inviting, with their Majesties' 
approval, the Duke of Luchtenberg, Mme. Dehn, 
Count Fredericks, his daughters, my sister and her 
husband, and a few other intimate friends. The con- 
certs were delightful, greatly cheering us all, includ- 
ing the somewhat lonely young Grand Duchesses and 
the much harassed Emperor, But something in the 
music, perhaps its wild and mournful tzigane numbers, 
moved the Empress to the depths of her sensitive soul. 
Her beautiful eyes became more than ever filled with 
melancholy and her heart seemed heavy with pre- 
monitions of disaster. 

Partly because of her increased melancholy and 
partly moved by just anger against the propagandist 
press in which our innocent concerts were described as 
"palace orgies," the Emperor for the first time was 
awakened to consciousness that the safety of his family 
was indeed threatened. At least he became aware 
of the fact that despite the dangerous unrest of the 
times, Tsarskoe Selo and even Petrograd remained 
practically ungarrisoned. The capital was guarded 
by only a few regiments of reserves, while Tsarskoe 
Selo, the residence of the Imperial Family, had no regi- 
ments at all outside its peace-time quota of soldier and 
Cossack guards. At the command of the Emperor 
several additional regiments which had served for 
some time at the front were ordered to Tsarskoe for 
rest and recuperation, and, although naturally noth- 


ing of this was mentioned in the order, to augment if 
necessary the inadequate military force at hand. The 
first order was given for a strong detachment of naval 
guards, but after these men were actually entrained 
for Tsarskoe they were stopped by a counter order 
from General Gourko, who in the illness of General 
Alexieff was in command at G. H. Q. This counter 
order being at once communicated to the Emperor, he 
exercised his supreme authority and the regiment once 
more started for Tsarskoe Selo. But the audacity of 
General Gourko had not yet reached its limit. When 
the military train reached the station at Tsarskoe it 
was met by a telegram from General Gourko to the 
officer in command, ordering the regiment back to the 
front. The bewildered officer for a few moments was 
at a loss what to do, but fortunately news of his 
dilemma was telephoned to the palace, and the regi- 
ment, under the peremptory command of the Emperor, 
left the train and went into garrison at Tsarskoe. The 
Emperor next commanded that one of his favorite 
regiments of Varsovie Lancers be sent to Tsarskoe, 
but instead General Gourko left headquarters for the 
palace, where a long interview between the Emperor 
and the commander took place. By arguments of 
which I have no knowledge the Emperor was per- 
suaded that the Lancers could not, for the time being, 
be spared from their front-line position, and he re- 
called his order. 

However, it was clear that the Emperor was at last 
awake to the appalling menace of disaffection which 
was closing in like black cloud banks on every hand. 
The War was going badly, as every student of the 


times must remember. Bruslloff's brilliant offensive of 
the summer and autumn of 191 6 had indeed made it 
plain that Russia was by no means out of the struggle, 
but although this famous drive had netted the Russians 
a gain of territory even larger than that which was 
yielded in the great Battle of the Somme, it had finally 
stopped leaving us with much lost territory still unre- 
deemed. The Emperor knew this and it tormented 
his heart and soul. The intriguers knew it and re- 
solved to use it as a weapon to get the Tsar away from 
his capital and from his family. It was on the 19th 
or 20th of February (Russian Calendar) that the Em- 
peror's brother, Grand Duke Michail Alexandrovitch, 
visited the palace and told the Emperor that it was his 
immediate duty to return to the Stavka because of 
grave threats of mutiny in the army. Very reluctantly 
the Emperor consented to go. Mutiny in the army 
was a serious enough matter and demanded the pres- 
ence of the commander in chief. But other things 
were at the same time occurring to cause keen anxiety. 
The Empress had acquainted me with the nature of 
these disquieting events, but because of the interna- 
tional character of the most serious I dislike even now 
to put them in writing. However, I am here repeating 
only what was then told me and I have no firsthand 
information to offer in verification of their truth. 
Their Majesties had been informed and finally from a 
source which they believed to be absolutely reliable, 
that the center of intrigue against the throne was not 
in any secret garret of disaffected workingmen but in 
the British Embassy, where the Ambassador, Sir 
George Buchanan, was personally aiding the Grand 


Dukes to overthrow Nicholas II and to replace him 
by his cousin Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovitch. Sir 
George Buchanan's main purpose, it was said, was not 
so much to further the ambitions of the Grand Dukes 
as it was to weaken Russia as a factor in the future 
peace conference. Unable fully to believe that an am- 
bassador of one of the Allied Powers would dare to 
meddle maliciously in the internal affairs of the Em- 
pire, the Tsar had nevertheless decided to communi- 
cate his information in a personal letter to his cousin 
King George of England. The Empress, deeply in- 
dignant, advised a demand on King George for the 
Ambassador's recall, but the Emperor replied that he 
dared not, at such a critical time, make public his dis- 
trust of an Ally's representative. Whether or not the 
Emperor ever wrote his letter to King George I never 
knew, but that his anxiety and depression of spirits 
persisted I can well testify. On the evening of Feb- 
ruary 29, the day before the Emperor's departure, I 
gave a small dinner to some intimate friends among 
the officers of the Naval Guard, Mme. Dehn helping 
me in my duties as hostess. A note from the Empress 
summoned us all to spend the end of the evening in 
her sitting room, and as soon as I saw the Emperor I 
knew that he was seriously upset. During the tea hour 
he spoke little, and when I tried to catch his eye he 
turned his head aside. The Empress murmured in my 
ear that all his instincts warned him against leaving 
Tsarskoe Selo at that time, and as this coincided ex- 
actly with my own judgment I ventured to tell him, on 
saying good night, that I should hope to the last mo- 
ment that he would not go away until the worst of the 


uncertainties in Petrograd were removed. At this he 
smiled, almost cheerfully, and said that I must not 
allow myself to be frightened by wild rumors and idle 
gossip. Go he must, but within ten days he expected 
to be able to return. 

The next morning I went to the door and watched 
his motor car drive out of the palace grounds, the 
Empress and the children going with it as far as the 
station. As usual on such occasions, there was a dis- 
play of flags, of guards standing at salute, and bells 
from the churches pealing their farewell. Everything 
appeared the same, yet in that hour the flags, the 
soldiers, the pealing bells were speeding the Tsar of 
all the Russias to his doom. 

I felt ill that morning, ill physically as well as men- 
tally, yet as in duty bound I went to my hospital, where 
a soldier in whose case I took a special interest was 
to undergo an operation which he dreaded and at 
which he had implored me to be present. While the 
anesthetic was being administered I stood beside the 
poor man holding his hand, but at the same time I 
realized that I was becoming feverish and that my 
headache was almost unbearably increasing. Return- 
ing to the palace, I lay down in my bedroom, after 
writing a line to the Empress excusing myself from 
tea. An hour later Tatiana came in, sympathetic as 
usual, but troubled because both Olga and Alexei were 
in bed with high temperatures and the doctors sus- 
pected that they might be coming down with measles. 
A week or two before some small cadets from the mil- 
itary school had spent the afternoon playing with 
Alexei, and one of these boys had a cough and such a 


flushed face that the Empress had called the attention 
of M. Gilliard to the child, fearing illness. The next 
day we heard that he was ill with measles, but because 
our minds were so troubled with many other things 
none of us thought much of the danger of contagion. 
As for me, even after Tatiana had told me that Olga 
and Alexei were suspected cases, it did not at once 
occur to me that I was going to be ill. Still my tem- 
perature went on rising and my headache was unre- 
lieved. I lay in bed all the next day until the dinner 
hour when Mme. Dehn came in and I made a futile 
effort to get up and dress. Mme. Dehn made me lie 
down again, and looking me over carefully she said: 
"You look very badly to me. I think you will have to 
have the doctor." The next Instant, so it seemed to 
me, the doctor was in the room and I heard him say : 
"Measles. A bad case." Then I drifted off into sleep 
or unconsciousness. 

That same day Tatiana fell ill, and now the Em- 
press had four of us on her hands. Putting on her 
nurse's uniform, she spent all the succeeding days be- 
tween her children's rooms and mine. Half conscious, 
I felt gratefully her capable hands arranging my 
pillows, smoothing my burning forehead, and holding 
to my lips medicines and cooling drinks. Already, as 
I heard vaguely, Marie and Anastasie had begun to 
cough, but this news disturbed me only as a passing 
dream. I was conscious of the presence of my mother 
and father and of my younger sister, and still as in a 
kind of nightmare I understood that they and the Em- 
press spoke in hurried whispers of riots and disorders 
in Petrograd. But of the first days of Revolution, the 


strikes in Petrograd and Moscow, the revolt of the 
mobs and the hesitancy of the half-disciplined reserves 
to restore order, I know nothing except what was after- 
wards related to me. I do know, however, that 
through it all the Empress of Russia was completely 
calm and courageous, and that when my sister, hurry- 
ing to the palace after witnessing the wild scenes in 
Petrograd, had cried out to the Empress that the end 
had come, her fears were quieted by brave and reassur- 
ing words. 

It was the devoted old Grand Duke Paul, as the 
Empress afterwards told me, who brought her the 
first official tidings, and made her understand that that 
most calamitous of all blunders, a political revolution 
in the midst of world war, had been accomplished. 
Even then she lost none of her marvelous courage. 
She did not call upon the Ministers or upon the Allied 
Ambassadors to protect her and her children. With 
dignity, unmoved she witnessed day by day the 
cowardly desertion of men who for years had lived at 
Court and who had enjoyed the faith and friendship 
of the Imperial Family. One by one they went, Gen- 
eral Racine, Count Apraxine, officers and men of the 
bodyguard, servants the oldest and the most trusted, 
all with smooth excuses and apologies which translated 
meant only sauve qui pent. 

One night came the noise of rioting and the sharp 
staccato of machine guns apparently approaching 
nearer and nearer the palace. It was about eleven 
o'clock and the Empress was sitting for a few minutes' 
rest on the edge of my bed. Getting up hastily and 
wrapping herself in a white shawl, she beckoned 


Marie, the last of the children on her feet, and went 
out of the palace into the icy air to face whatever 
threatened. The Naval Guard and the Konvoi Cos- 
sacks still remained on duty, although even then they 
were preparing to desert. It is altogether possible 
that they would have gone over to the rioters that 
night had it not been for the unexpected appearance 
of the Empress and her daughter. From one guard 
to another they passed, the stately woman and the 
courageous young girl, undaunted both in the face 
of deadly danger, speaking words of encouragement, 
and most of all of simple faith and confidence. This 
alone held the men at their posts during that dreadful 
night and prevented the rioters from attacking the 
palace. The next day the guards disappeared. The 
Naval Guards, led by Grand Duke Cyril Vladimiro- 
vitch,^ marched with red flags to the Duma and pre- 
sented themselves to Rodzianko as joyful revolu- 
tionists. The very men who in the previous midnight 
had hailed the Empress with the traditional greeting, 
"Zdravie Jelaini Vashie Imperatorskoe Velichestvo!" 
Health and long life to your Majesty! So loud had 
been their greeting that the Empress, not wishing me 
to know that she had left the palace, sent a servant to 
tell me that the Guards were waiting to meet the 

There was now in or about the palace practically 
no one to defend the Imperial Family in case the mob 
decided to attack. Still the Empress remained calm, 
saying only that she hoped no blood would have to be 

'This is the same Cyril Vladimirovitch who has recently proclaimed 
himself "Head of the Romanoff Family and Guardian of the Throne." 


shed in their defense. A telegram from the Emperor 
revealed that the crisis had become known to him, for 
he implored the Empress to join him with the children 
at headquarters. At the same hour came an astound- 
ing message to the Empress from Rodzianko, now head 
of the Provisional Government, notifying her that she 
and her whole family must vacate the palace at once. 
Her answer to both messages was that she could not 
leave because all five of the children were dangerously 
ill. Rodzianko's reply to this appeal of an anguished 
mother was: "When the house is on fire it is time for 
everything to be thrown out." Desperately the Em- 
press consulted doctors and nurses. Could the children 
possibly be moved? Could Anna? What was to be 
done in case the Provisional Government proved al- 
together pitiless? 

Into this soul-racking dilemma of the mother came 
to the wife of the Emperor the terrible news of his 
abdication. I could not be with her in that hour of 
woe, nor did I even see her until the following morn- 
ing. It was my parents who broke the news to me, 
almost too ill and too cloudy of mind to comprehend 
it. Mme. Dehn, who was with the Empress on the 
evening when Grand Duke Paul arrived with the fatal 
tidings, has described the scene when the broken- 
hearted Empress left the Grand Duke and returned to 
her own room. 

"Her face was distorted with agony, her eyes were full of 
tears. She tottered rather than walked, and I rushed forward 
and supported her until she reached the writing table between 
the windows. She leaned heavily against it, and taking my 
hands in hers she said brokenly: 'Abdique!' 


"I could hardly believe my ears. I waited for her next 
words. They were scarcely audible. At last [still speaking 
in French, for Mme. Dehn spoke no English] 'Poor darling 
— alone there and suffering — My God! What he must have 

In that hour of supreme agony there was not a word 
spoken of the loss of a throne. Alexandra Feo- 
dorovna's whole heart was with her husband, her sole 
fears that he might be in danger and that their boy- 
might be taken from them. At once she began to send 
frantic telegrams to the Emperor begging him to come 
home as soon as possible. With the refinement of 
cruelty which marked the whole conduct of the Pro- 
visional Government in those days these telegrams 
were returned to the Empress marked in blue pencil: 
"Address of person mentioned unknown." 

Not even this insolence nor all her fears broke the 
sublime courage of the Empress. When next morning 
she entered my sickroom and saw by my tear-drenched 
face that I knew what had happened her only visible 
emotion was a slight irritation that other lips than her 
own had brought me the news. "They should have 
known that I preferred to tell you myself," she said. 
It was only when gone her rounds of the palace and 
was alone in her own bedroom that she finally gave 
way to her grief. "Mama cried terribly," little Grand 
Duchess Marie told me. "I cried too, but not more 
than I could help, for poor Mama's sake." Never in 
my life, I am certain, shall I behold such proud forti- 
tude as was shown all through those days of wreck and 
disaster by the Empress and her children. Not one 
single word of bitterness or resentment passed their 


lips. "You know, Annia," said the Empress gently, 
"all is finished for our Russia, But we must not blame 
the people or the soldiers for what has happened." 
Too well we knew on whose shoulders the burden of 
responsibility really rested. 

By this time Olga and Alexei were decidedly better, 
but Tatiana and Anastasie were still very ill and Marie 
was in the first serious stage of the disease. The Em- 
press in her hospital uniform moved tirelessly from 
one bed to another. Perceiving that from my floor of 
the palace practically every servant had fled, even my 
nurses and my once devoted Jouk having yielded to the 
general panic, she found people to move my bed up- 
stairs to the old nursery of the Emperor. We were 
now almost alone in the palace. My father's resigna- 
tion having been demanded and of course given, my 
parents were detained in Petrograd. 

Days passed and still no word came from the Em- 
peror. The Empress's endurance had almost reached 
its breaking point when there came to the palace a 
young woman, the wife of an obscure oflScer, who threw 
herself at the feet of the Empress and begged to be 
allowed the dangerous task of getting a letter through 
to the Emperor. Gratefully indeed did the Empress 
accept the offer, and within an hour the brave woman 
was on her way to Mogiloff. How she managed to 
reach headquarters, how she passed the cordon of 
soldiers and finally succeeded in delivering to the cap- 
tive Emperor his wife's letter we never knew, but all 
honor to this heroic woman, she did it. 

The palace was now full of Revolutionary soldiers, 
quite drunk with their new liberty. Their heavy boots 


tramped through all the rooms and corridors, and 
groups of dirty, unshaven men were constantly pushing 
their way into the nurseries bawling out hoarsely: 
"Show us Alexei!" For it was the heir who most of 
all aroused the interest and curiosity of the mob. 
Meanwhile, behind closed doors and anxiously await- 
ing the arrival of the Emperor, the Empress and her 
few faithful friends were at work forestalling the 
coming of Kerensky by burning and destroying letters 
and diaries, intimate personal records too precious to 
be allowed to fall into the ruthless hands of enemies. 


IN anxiety almost unbearable we waited until the 
morning of March 9 (Russian) the arrival of the 
Emperor. I was still confined to my bed and Dr. 
Botkine was making me his first visit of the day when 
my door flew open and Mme. Dehn, pale with excite- 
ment, rushed to my bedside exclaiming breathlessly : 
"He has come !" As soon as she could command words 
she described the arrival of the Emperor, not as of 
yore attended, but guarded like a prisoner by armed 
soldiers. The Empress was with Alexei when the 
motor cars drove into the palace grounds, and Mme. 
Dehn told how she sprang to her feet overjoyed and 
ran like a schoolgirl down the stairs and through the 
long corridors to meet her husband. For a time at 
least the happiness of reunion blotted out the suspense 
of the past and the gloomy uncertainty of the future. 
But afterwards, alone, behind their own closed doors, 
the emotion of the betrayed and deserted Emperor 
completely overcame his self-control and he sobbed 
like a child on the breast of his wife. It was four 
o'clock in the afternoon before she could come to me, 
and when she came I read in her white, drawn face the 
whole story of the ordeal through which she had 
passed. With prideful composure she related the 
events of the day. I tried to match her in courage but 

I am afraid I failed. I, who in all the twelve years of 



my life in the palace had but three times seen tears 
in the eyes of the Emperor, was entirely overwhelmed 
at her recital. 

"He will not break down a second time," she said 
with a brave smile. "He is walking in the garden now. 
Come to the window and see." She helped me to the 
window and herself pulled aside the curtain. Never, 
never while I live shall I forget what we saw, we two, 
clinging together in shame and sorrow for our dis- 
graced country. Below in the garden of the palace 
which had been his home for twenty years stood the 
man who until a few days before had been Tsar of 
all the Russias. With him was his faithful friend 
Prince Dolgorouky, and surrounding them were six 
soldiers, say rather six hooligans, armed with rifles. 
With their fists and with the butts of their guns they 
pushed the Emperor this way and that as though he 
were some wretched vagrant they were baiting in a 
country road. "You can't go there, Gospodin 
Polkovnik (Mr. Colonel)." "We don't permit you to 
walk in that direction, Gospodin Polkovnik." "Stand 
back when you are commanded, Gospodin Polkovnik." 
The Emperor, apparently unmoved, looked from one 
of these coarse brutes to another and with great dignity 
turned and walked back towards the palace. I had 
been a very sick woman, and I was now hardly fit 
to stand on my feet. The light went out suddenly and 
I fainted. But the Empress did not faint. She got 
me back to my bed, fetched cold water, and when I 
awoke it was to feel her cool hand bathing my head. 
From her calm and detached manner no one could have 
guessed that the scene we had just witnessed was part 


also of her own tragedy. Before leaving me she said 
as to a child: "If you will promise to be very good 
and not cry he shall come to see you this evening." 

After dinner they came, the Emperor and Empress 
with our friend Lili Dehn. The two women sat down 
at a table with their needlework leaving the Emperor 
free to sit by my bed and talk to me privately. I 
have tried to show Nicholas II as a human person, 
with human emotions, and I have no desire now to 
represent him, in the hour of his humiliation, as other 
than a man feeling keenly and acutely the bitterness of 
his position. I had been unable until the day of his 
return to realize with any degree of clarity the full 
extent of his calamity. It was to me almost unbe- 
lievable that his enemies, who had so long plotted and 
schemed for his overthrow, had at last succeeded. It 
was beyond reason that the Emperor, the finest and 
best of the whole Romanoff family, should be allowed 
to fall under the feet of his decadent, treacherous kins- 
men and subjects. But the Emperor, his eyes hard 
and glistening, told me that it was indeed true. And 
he added: "If all Russia came to me now on their 
knees I would never return." 

With tears in his voice he spoke of the men, his most 
trusted relations and friends, who had turned against 
him and caused his downfall. He read me telegrams 
from Brusiloff, Alexieff, and other of his generals, 
others from members of the family, including a mes- 
sage from Nicholai Nicholaievitch, in which the 
writers "on their knees" begged his Imperial Majesty, 
for the salvation of Russia, to abdicate. In whose 
favor did they wish him to abdicate? The weak and 


ineffectual Duma? The great untaught masses of the 
people? No, to their own blind and self-seeking 
oligarchy, which, under a regent of its own choosing, 
would rule the boy Alexei and through him the people 
and the uncounted wealth of Russia. But this at least 
the Emperor could and did prevent. Both his heart 
and his mind forbade him to abdicate in favor of the 
Tsarevitch. "My boy I will not give to them," he said 
feelingly. "Let them get some one else, Michail, if 
he thinks he is strong enough." 

I regret that I cannot remember every word the 
Emperor told me of the scenes in his train when the 
deputation from the Duma came to demand his ab- 
dication. I was trying too hard to obey the Empress's 
injunction to "be good and not cry." But I remem- 
ber his telling me how arrogant and vain the deputies, 
especially Goutchkoff and Shoulgin, showed them- 
selves. On their departure the Emperor's first words 
were addressed to the two tall Cossacks who stood 
guard at his door. "It is time now for you to tear my 
initials from your shoulder straps," he told them. 
The Cossacks saluted and one of them said: "Please 
your Imperial Majesty, please allow us to kill them." 
But the Emperor replied: "It is too late to do that 

Of his mother, who hurried from Kiev, accompanied 
by Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch, to see him, 
he said that he was vastly comforted to have her near 
him, but that the sight of the Grand Duke was unen- 
durable. Driving away from the train with the Em- 
press Dowager, the Emperor had been much moved 
to see the people along the whole distance of two versts 


fall on their knees to bid him farewell. There was a 
group of schoolgirls from the institute at Mogiloff 
who forced their way past the guards and surrounded 
their Sovereign, begging his handkerchief, his auto- 
graph on bits of paper, the buttons from his uniform, 
anything for a last souvenir. The Emperor's face 
grew sharply lined when he spoke of those brave girls 
and the kneeling people. "Why did you not appeal to 
them?" I asked. "Why did you not appeal to the 
soldiers?" But the Emperor answered gently: "The 
people knew themselves powerless, and as for appeal- 
ing to the soldiers, how could I? Already I had heard 
threats of murdering my family." His wife and chil- 
dren, he said, were all on earth he had left to live for 
now. Their happiness and well-being were all his soul 
desired. As for the Empress, more than himself the 
real object of malice, only over his body should any 
hand be raised to injure her. Giving way once more 
for a brief moment to his grief the Emperor murmured 
half to himself: "But there is no justice, no justice 
on earth." Then as if in apology he said: "It has 
shaken me badly, as you see. 'For the first few days I 
was so little myself that I could not even write my 

As we talked it came over me for the first time in 
full force that all was indeed finished for Russia. The 
army was disrupted, the nation fallen. I could foresee, 
to some extent at least, the horrors we should have to 
meet, but in a kind of desperate hope I asked the Em- 
peror if he did not think that the riots and strikes 
would now be put down. He shook his head. "Not 
for two years at least," he predicted. But what did he 



think was to become of him, of the Empress and the 
children? He did not know, but there was one prayer 
he should not be too proud to make to his enemies, and 
that was that they should not send him out of Russia. 
"Let me live here in my own country, as the humblest 
and most obscure proprietor, tilling the land and earn- 
ing the poorest living," he exclaimed. "Send us to 
any distant corner of Russia, but only let us stay." 

This was the only time I ever saw the Emperor in 
the least degree unmanned, or overcome with the bit- 
terness of grief which I knew must have filled his spirit. 
After that first day in the palace gardens he gave his 
jailers no opportunity of insulting him. With Prince 
Dolgorouky he walked out daily but only along near 
pathways to the palace doors. The snow was heavy 
on the ground and the two men vigorously exercised 
themselves shoveling it from paths and roadways. 
Often the Emperor would look up from this strenuous 
work to wave a hand to those of us who were watching 
from the windows. In the solitude of my sick chamber 
I tormented myself with thoughts of what might be 
in store for the Emperor and the beloved family whose 
happiness and well-being were more to him than the 
most exalted throne. They were all prisoners of the 
Duma now, and what dark and hapless fate was the 
ruthless, irresponsible Duma preparing for them? 
Not a comforting question to haunt the mind of one 
ill in body and soul. From my first waking moment on 
I lived in anticipation of the daily visit of the Em- 
press. She who had all at stake still kept her won- 
derful courage alive. She came in tall and stately, a 
smile on her gentle, melancholy face, bringing me 


the news of the nurseries, messages from the children, 
making me work, doing everything possible to cheer 
and to lighten my mind. In the evening the Emperor 
usually came, wheeling his wife in her invalid's chair, 
for by night her strength had all but gone. They 
stayed with me for an hour and then went on to say 
good night to the suite in the drawing room. Sadly 
diminished in numbers was that suite, but unchanged 
in fealty and affection for fallen majesty. Among 
those devoted friends who appeared almost like the 
survivors of a shipwreck were Count Benkendorff, 
brother of the former Russian ambassador to Great 
Britain, and his wife, who had boldly arrived at the 
palace when it was first surrounded by mutinous 
soldiers; two maids of honor. Baroness Buxhoevden 
and Countess Hendrikoff; the faithful Miss Schneider 
("Trina"), Mme. Dehn, Count Fredericks, General 
Voyeikoff and the Hussar officer. General Groten. 
The two devoted aides-de-camp. Lieutenant Linevitch 
and Count Zamirsky, who had flown to the palace to 
be near the Empress after the abdication, had been 
forced to leave, or they too would have remained to 
the end. Of the household M. Gilliard and Mr. 
Gibbs, the French and English tutors of Alexei, had 
elected to remain. Madeleine, and several other per- 
sonal attendants, including three nurses, also stayed. 
"In good times we served the family," said these honest 
souls, "never will we forsake them now." 

Not once, after the very first of our conversations, 
and not at any time I believe to others in the palace 
did the Emperor or the Empress make the smallest 
complaint of their captivity. They seemed to suffer for 


Russia rather than for themselves, for they knew, and 
said so, that the army, suddenly in the midst of war 
released from all discipline, would soon cease to fight 
efficiently, or perhaps to obey orders at all. This of 
course the world knows is precisely what did happen. 
The Emperor, I must admit, sometimes betrayed a 
gruesome kind of humor over the fantastic blunders 
of the self-styled statesmen who were so rapidly mak- 
ing general shipwreck of their revolution. In every 
way they showed their weakness and bewilderment. 
Whether or not they feared to trust old officers of the 
Empire with the custody of the Imperial Family I 
cannot be sure, but the men they sent to Tsarskoe were 
a constant source of ironic mirth to the suite. Most 
of these men were young, raw, underbred, and inex- 
perienced, the best of them being junior officers pro- 
moted since 19 14. One day one of the guard officers, 
just to show how democratic Russia had become, 
swaggered up to the Emperor and offered to shake 
hands with him. Unfortunately, as he afterwards told 
me, the Emperor was so busy shoveling snow that he 
could not take advantage of the man's condescension. 
The newly appointed commandant of the palace was 
a young man named Paul Kotzebou, before the War 
an officer of the lancers, but for some piece of miscon- 
duct cashiered from the service. I had long known 
Kotzebou and aside from his doubtful army record I 
was not sorry to see him in the palace, for I knew that 
if weak of character he was at least kind of heart. 
Kind indeed he proved himself, for he visited my sick- 
room in friendly fashion, risked arrest by consenting 
to smuggle letters to my parents in Petrograd, and 


was the first to warn me that the Provisional Govern- 
ment was contemplating my arrest. Many of the old 
friends and advisers of the Emperor were already in 
prison, but the proposal to arrest a woman whose sole 
crime had been devotion to the Empress and her chil- 
dren gave us all an uncomfortable, premonitory shock. 
The distress of the Empress was greater almost than 
her pride. The mercy she would have scorned to ask 
for herself she was ready to beg for me, and she did 
most earnestly implore Kotzebou to intercede in my 
behalf. "What possible good will it do them to ar- 
rest one helpless woman?" she urged. "Parting with 
her would be like losing one of my own children." 
Kotzebou, whatever his feelings, could only reply: 
"If I could, Madame — but there is nothing I can do, 

The Emperor alone refused to believe my arrest at 
all probable, but the others were badly frightened at 
the prospect. The sister of mercy who had worked 
in my hospital and was taking care of me, almost 
went on her knees to the Emperor and Empress. 
"Now is the time to show your real love for Anna 
Alexandrovna," she cried. "Take her into the rooms 
of your own children and never let anybody touch her." 
Cooler counsel came from Count Benkendorff, who ad- 
vised the Emperor and Empress not to oppose my 
arrest if it were ordered. The only result of oppo- 
sition, he pointed out, would be more arrests and 
perhaps increased hardship for the Empress. "I do 
not think they will detain her, unless it is in one of the 
rooms of the Tauride," he said, meaning that I might 
only be isolated for a time in the palace where the 


Duma held its sessions. Count Benkendorff was later 
to learn what kind of justice was being prepared by 
the criminal lunatics who were at Russia's throat. 

One morning towards the 20th of March I had a 
hurried note from the Empress, the contents of which 
were enough to make me forget all my own troubles. 
Marie, who had been very ill and who now she feared 
was dying, was calling constantly for me. The ser- 
vant who brought the note told me that Anastasie also 
was in a critical condition, lungs and ears being in a 
sad state of inflammation. Oxygen alone was keeping 
the children alive. Kotzebou was calling on me at 
the time, and as I sat up in bed wildly demanding to 
be dressed, he begged me not to leave my room. 
"They are only waiting until you are well enough to be 
arrested," he assured me. But though I feared arrest 
I feared still more letting the child I loved die with 
one single wish unfulfilled, and as soon as I could be 
sufficiently clothed it was Kotzebou himself who 
wheeled my chair through the long corridors to the 
nurseries. It was the first time in weeks that I had 
seen the children and our meeting was full of tears. 
We wept in each other's arms and then without wasting 
any time I went on into Marie's room. The child in- 
deed seemed to be at the point of death, but when she 
saw me the suffering in her eyes turned to something 
like joy. Her weak hands fluttered on the bedclothes 
and with a feeble cry, "Annia, Annia," she began to 
weep. Long I sat beside her holding her hot and 
wasted body in my arms, and when I left her she was 
asleep. Shaken though I was with that experience, I 
had one more agony to bear. When my chair was 


being wheeled back along the corridor I passed the 
open door of Alexei's room, and this is what I saw. 
Lying sprawled in a chair was the sailor Derevanko, 
for many years the personal attendant of the Tsare- 
vitch, and on whom the family had bestowed every 
kindness, every material benefit. Bitten by the mania 
of revolution, this man was now displaying his grati- 
tude for all their favors. Insolently he bawled at the 
boy whom he had formerly loved and cherished, to 
bring him this or that, to perform any menial service 
his mean lackey's brain could think of. Dazed and 
apparently only half conscious of what he was being 
forced to do, the child moved about trying to obey. 
It was too much to bear. Hiding my face in my hands, 
I begged them to take me away from the sickening 

The next day, my last in the palace, I went again to 
the children, and for a few hours at least was a little 
bit happy. The Emperor and Empress had luncheon 
served in the nurseries, and we were all able to eat in 
some comfort because both Marie and Anastasie were 
showing signs of improvement. Still we were troubled 
because Kotzebou, as a reward for his too kindly treat- 
ment of the captives, had that morning been removed 
from the palace, and the doctors when they came 
brought with them newspapers, fair samples of the new 
"free" press of Russia, bristling with frightful stories, 
especially about me. For the first time I began to real- 
ize, with a sick heart, what an arrest might mean, 
what grotesque charges I might be called upon to 
face. For the first time, in these newspapers I read 
the amazing tale of how I had conspired with Dr. 


Badmieff to poison the Emperor and the Tsarevitch. 
Dr. Badmieff, that half mad old Siberian root and 
herb doctor, who never in his life had been admitted 
to the palace as a physician or even as a friend! It 
was too absurd to resent. Even the Empress who at 
first had shown anger, burst into mocking laughter. 
"Here, Annia," she cried, "keep this story for your 

The next day I was arrested. I awoke in a morning 
of storm and howling wind and in my soul a feeling 
of dread and foreboding. Immediately after my cof- 
fee I wrote a note to the Empress asking her not to 
wait until afternoon to see me. Her reply was kind 
and cheering, but she was busy in the nurseries and 
could not leave until after the arrival of the doctors. 
With luncheon came Lili Dehn, and scarcely had we 
finished the meal when we were aware of great noise 
and confusion in the corridor outside. An icy hand 
seemed to seize my heart. "They are coming," I 
whispered, and Mme. Dehn, springing from her chair 
cried: "Impossible. No — no — " and panic-struck fled 
the room. The door flew open to admit a frightened 
servant with a note from the Empress. "Kerensky 
is going through our rooms. Do not be frightened. 
God is with us." Hardly had the man retired when 
again the door opened and another frightened servant, 
a palace messenger in a feathered cap, announced in a 
drowned voice the arrival of Kerensky. In a moment 
the room seemed to fill up with men and walking ar- 
rogantly before them I beheld a small, clean-shaven, 
theatrical person whose essentially weak face was dis- 
guised in a Napoleonic frown. Standing over me in 


his characteristic attitude, right hand thrust into the 
bosom of his jacket, the man boomed out: "I am the 
Minister of Justice. You are to dress and go at once 
to Petrograd." I answered not a word but lay still 
on my pillows looking, him straight in the face. This 
seemed to disconcert him somewhat for he turned to 
one of his officers and said nervously: "Ask the 
doctors if she is fit to go. Otherwise she must be ar- 
rested and isolated in the palace." Count Benken- 
dorff, who stood in the back of the room near the door, 
volunteered to see the doctor, and when he returned 
it was with the message that Dr. Botkine gave them 
permission to take me. Afterwards I learned that the 
Empress reproached the doctor bitterly, saying over 
and over through her tears: "How can you? How 
can you? You who have children of your own." But 
Dr. Botkine was by this time a victim of craven fear, 
and he was incapable of refusing any request of the 
Provisional Government. 

They gave me time to dress warmly, and I had a 
moment in which to reply briefly to a note from the 
Emperor and Empress, in which they enclosed small 
pictures of Christ and the Virgin, signed with their 
Majesties' initials, N. and A. When at last I was 
ready to go it suddenly surged over me that this might 
be the end of my long association with these dearly 
loved friends, my Sovereigns, whose intimate lives I 
had shared for twelve years. Ready to fall on my 
knees before him if necessary I made a final appeal 
to Colonel Korovitchinko, the new commandant of 
the palace, begging him to let me see them for one 
moment, just long enough to say good-bye. Colonel 



Korovitchinko, who afterwards died a cruel death 
at the hands of the Bolsheviki, at first refused, but 
moved by my tears he relented a little. The Emperor, 
he said, was outside and could not be summoned, but 
he would exert his authority far enough to send me 
under guard to say good-bye to the Empress. Under 
escort of two officers I was taken to the apartment of 
Mile. Schneider, and very soon the pale Empress was 
wheeled into the room by her devoted attendant 
Volkov. We had time for only one long embrace 
and the hurried exchange of two rings. Then Tatiana, 
who came with her mother, embraced me, weeping, and 
as she too begged for a last memory gift I gave her 
the only thing I had to give, my wedding ring. Then 
the soldiers tore us apart but I saw that the man who 
gave the order did it with tears in his eyes. The last 
I remember was the white hand of the Empress point- 
ing upward and her voice: "There we are always to- 
gether." Volkov, weeping, cried out courageously: 
"Anna Alexandrovna, God will surely help." 

They carried me downstairs to the motor, for I 
could neither walk nor stand, even with the help of 
my crutches. At the door stood several soldiers and 
Court servants, visibly distressed, but by this time I 
felt nothing, heard nothing. I was turned to stone. 
When I was lifted into the car I was startled to see 
there another woman, like myself swathed in wraps 
and veils. It was Lili Dehn, whose arrest had not 
before this day even been threatened. Dazed as I was, 
it was some comfort to hear her whisper that we were 
to travel to Petrograd together. I recovered myself 
a little, enough at least to recognize the frightened 


face of the servant who closed the door of the car. 
Killed a few months later, this good man had been 
for a long time a sailor on the Imperial yacht. "Take 
care of their Majesties," I managed to say to him. 
Then the motor car shot forward, and I left the palace 
at Tsarskoe Selo forever. Both Lili and I pressed 
our faces to the glass in a last effort to see those be- 
loved we were leaving behind, and through the mist 
and rain we could just discern a group of white-clad 
figures crowded close to the nursery windows to see 
us go. In a moment of time the picture was blotted 
out and we saw only the wet landscape, the storm-bent 
trees, the rapidly creeping twilight. In another few 
moments we were at the station, the dear, familiar 
station of Tsarskoe, where so many, many times I 
had waited to greet or to say a short farewell to the 
Emperor and Empress. Ready for us was one of the 
small Imperial trains, now the special train of 
Kerensky. Our guards hurried us into a carriage, and 
the train immediately began to move. At the same 
time our carriage was invaded by Kerensky and a 
group of soldiers. Without even a pretense of decent 
politeness the new Minister of Justice began to shout 
at us: "Give your family names," and because we 
did not speak quickly enough the little man became 
insulted. "You will learn that when / ask a question 
you must answer promptly." We gave our names and 
Kerensky, turning triumphantly to the soldiers, ejacu- 
lated: "Well! Are you convinced now?" Ap- 
parently some of the men had expressed doubts as to 
whether they had bagged the right criminals. Sick 
and half fainting, I sank back into the cushions and 


closed my eyes on their departing figures. Lili bent 
over me with her salts bottle and soon I was able to 
sit up with some show of courage. It was the first 
time I had left the house since my illness and I was 
still very weak. 

Arrived in Petrograd, Kerensky paraded us before 
his officers like barbarian captives of some Roman 
emperor, but this did not affect us seriously. Our 
eyes were busy gazing at the changed aspect of Petro- 
grad, soldiers swanking around the streets proud of 
their slovenly appearance, the badge of their new 
freedom; mobs of people running aimlessly about, or 
pausing to listen to street-corner orators; and every- 
where on walls and buildings masses of dirty red flags. 
An old-fashioned coach belong to the Imperial stables 
had been sent for us and still closely guarded we drove 
to the Ministry of Justice. There we climbed a long 
and very steep staircase — how I did it on my crutches 
I do not yet understand — and were shown into a room 
on the third floor, empty even of a wooden chair. 
Silently we stood and waited, and after a time men 
came in carrying two sofas. On one of these Lili sat 
down and on the other I lay prone. Again we waited, 
no one near us save the unkempt soldier who guarded 
the door. The evening lengthened and finally 
Kerensky honored us with another brief visit. He did 
not look at me at all but asked Lili if they had built 
us a fire. It was an unnecessary question, for he must 
have felt the icy chill of the room. A few minutes 
later, however, a servant did build a fire in the tiled 
stove, and another brought in a tray with eggs and 
tea. Left alone with the unkempt soldier, the man 


suddenly amazed us by breaking into a volley of speech 
in which he cursed most eloquently the new order of 
things. Nothing good would come of it, nothing, 
was his opinion. Somewhat reassured because we had 
a guard who was not at heart a Revolutionist, we lay 
down, but the night brought to neither of us any 
anodyne of sleep and rest. 


MORNING dawned cold and gray, and so ex- 
hausted was I with sleeplessness and the dis- 
comfort of a hard bed without linen or blankets, that 
Lili was alarmed and when the tea arrived she begged 
the soldier who brought it to have a doctor sent me. 
But Kerensky replied that the doctor was engaged with 
War Minister Goutchkoff and could not be approached 
at present. Within a short time I was to be removed 
to a hospital, and as for Mme. Dehn, she might ex- 
pect good news soon. As a matter of fact Mme. Dehn 
was released from custody the next day. Feeling con- 
fident that she would be let go, I gave her what jewels 
I had brought with me, asking her to turn them over 
to my mother. In return Lili gave me a few neces- 
saries, including a pair of stockings for, which later 
I was extremely grateful because the prison stockings 
were so coarse and heavy that they hurt my injured 

About three o'clock in the afternoon Colonel Peretz, 
who afterwards wrote a book on the Revolution, came 
into the room with a group of young boys, former 
cadets of the military academy, now commissioned 
officers of the new army. "Say good-bye to your 
friend and come along," I was ordered, and after 
a quick embrace I parted with Mme. Dehn, my last 

link with the past, and followed the men downstairs, 



where a large motor car was waiting. We all got in, 
the men's rifles considerably reducing the carrying ca- 
pacity of the seats. As we drove off the colonel began 
a long and insulting monologue to which I tried not 
to listen. "Ah! You and your Grichka (Gregory)," 
I heard him saying, "what a monument you both de- 
serve for helping us to bring about the Revolution." 
But all that I wanted to learn from him was my des- 
tination, and as if in answer to the unspoken question 
he said: "All night we were discussing the most ap- 
propriate lodgings for you, and we decided on the 
Troubetskoy Bastion in the fortress." At this point 
we passed a church and, after the invariable custom, 
I made the sign of the cross. Colonel Peretz flamed 
into anger at this. "Don't dare cross yourself," he 
cried with emphasis on the last word. "Rather pray 
for the souls of the martyrs of the Revolution." Then 
as I made no response he exclaimed: "Why don't 
you answer when I speak to you?" I replied coldly 
that I had nothing whatever to say to him, whereupon 
be began to revile the Emperor and Empress in 
coarsest terms, ending with the words: "No doubt 
they are in hysterics over what has happened to them." 
Then I did speak. "If you knew with what dignity 
they are enduring what has happened you would not 
dare say what you have said." After which the mono- 
logue was for a moment or two halted. 

Turning into the Liteiny, a street in which many 
barracks and ministries are located, the car stopped 
and Colonel Peretz dispatched one of the cadet of- 
ficers on an errand into a Government building. On 
his return the colonel delayed matters long enough 


to make a bombastic speech on the great services to 
the Revolution performed by the cadets, and again 
we drove on. ReaHzing that we were not proceeding 
in the direction of the Fortress of Peter and Paul, I 
allowed my feminine curiosity to get the better of 
my pride and I asked whither we were bound, "To 
the Duma first," was the grim answer. "To the 
fortress afterwards." Arrived at the Tauride Palace 
we alighted at what is known as the Ministers' Pavilion 
and immediately went into the building. What a 
sight! Crowding the rooms and the corridors, men 
and women of all ages and conditions, prisoners of the 
Provisional Government ! Looking about, I saw many 
people of my own class, among them Mme. Souk- 
homlinoff who for all her manner betrayed might have 
been a guest rather than a prisoner. We exchanged 
cheerful greetings and she introduced the two women 
beside her, Mme. Polouboiarenoff and Mme. Riman, 
wife of a well-known general. Mme. Polouboiaren- 
off, of whom I had heard as a brilliant writer on a 
conservative newspaper (murdered for this later by 
the Bolsheviki), was quite self-possessed, but Mme. 
Riman's face was wet with constantly flowing tears. 
A young girl student, a typical Revolutionist who 
seemed to be in some kind of authority, passed us in 
a hurry, pausing to say to Mme. Riman: "What are 
you crying about? You are going to be set free while 
these two" — Mme. Soukhomlinoff and myself — "are 
going to the fortress." Poor Mme. Riman was crying 
because her husband was already in prison, but the 
revolutionary student could not be expected to 
sympathize with that. 


It really is easier to be calm over one's own than 
over another's fate, as I learned when I found myself, 
with Mme. Soukhomlinoff, once more in a motor car 
bound for that mysterious prison on the left bank of 
the Neva, directly opposite the Winter Palace, the 
Fortress of Peter and Paul. As we left the Tauride 
the girl student, who after all had some natural feel- 
ings, asked me for my father's telephone number that 
she might notify my parents where I had been sent. 
"No need to bother about that," broke in the 
chivalrous Colonel Peretz. "The newspapers will 
have a full report." "All the better," I rejoined, 
"for then many more will pray for me." 

Rolling into the vast enclosure of the fortress, we 
stopped at the entrance of the Troubetskoy Bastion. 
A group of soldiers, dirty and wolfish of demeanor, 
rushed to meet us. "Now I am bringing you two very 
desperate political prisoners," shouted the colonel, as 
the men closed around us. But a stout Cossack, much 
more human than the rest, assumed authority saying 
that he was that day acting in place of the governor 
of the fortress. Preceded by this man, we traversed a 
long series of narrow, winding stone passages, so dark 
that I could see only a few feet ahead. Suddenly I 
was halted, hinges creaked, and I was roughly pushed 
into a pitch-dark cell the door of which was instantly 
bolted behind me. 

No one who has not been a prisoner can possibly 
know the sickening sensation which possessed me, 
standing there in that dark hole, afraid to take a step 
forward, unable to touch with my groping hands either 
walls or furniture. My heart leaped and pounded in 


my breast and I clung desperately to my crutches lest 
I should fall into that unfathomed darkness. A few 
minutes of wild terror and then as my eyes grew ac- 
customed to the dark I saw ahead of me a narrow iron 
cot towards which I moved with infinite caution. In 
my progress towards the bed my feet sank into pools 
of stagnant water which covered the floor, and soon I 
perceived that the walls of the cell were also dripping 
with moisture. The tiny window, high in the farthest 
wall, admitted little air, and the whole place was foul 
with dampness and the odor of years. It reeked with 
even worse smells as I quickly discovered, for close 
to the bed was an uncovered toilet connected with 
archaic plumbing. The bed was hard and lumpy and 
I do not think that the thin mattress had ever been 
cleaned or aired. However, that mattress was not to 
afflict me long. Within a few minutes my cell door 
was thrown open and several uniformed men entered. 
At their head was a black-bearded ruffian who told me 
that he was Koutzmine, representative of the Minister 
of Justice, and was authorized to arrange the regime 
of all prisoners. At his orders the soldiers tore from 
under me the ill-smelling mattress and the hard little 
pillow, leaving me only a rough bed of planks. Under 
his orders they tore off my rings and jerked loose a 
gold chain from which were suspended several precious 
relics. They hurt me and I cried out in protest, where- 
upon the soldiers spat at me, struck me with their 
fists and left, noisily clanging the iron door behind 
them. Wrapping my cloak around me, I crouched 
down on the bed shivering from head to foot and filled 
with such an agony of loathing and disgust and deso- 


lation that I thought I should die. Not a particle of 
food was brought me that day, and nothing broke the 
monotony of the dragging hours save now and again 
when the small grating in the door of my cell was 
pushed aside and a gaping soldier looked in. Then 
came night, hardly darker than the day, but more 
silent. Weak with hunger, spent with pain I clutched 
my aching head with my hands and asked God if He 
had forgotten me. At that moment of extreme misery 
I was startled and at the same time strangely com- 
forted by a sudden low but distinct rapping on the 
other side of the wall. Instinctively I knew that it was 
Mme. Soukhomlinoff who was trying to speak to me 
in the only language prisoners have. I rapped back, 
almost happily, for I felt that with a friend so near I 
was not entirely deserted. 

I must have slept after that, for the next thing I 
remember was a man entering the cell with a pot of 
hot water and a small piece of black bread which he 
placed on an iron shelf near the bed. "As soon as 
your money arrives you can have tea," he announced 
briefly. Tea would have been a priceless blessing in 
that cold place, but I was so thirsty that I drank every 
drop of the hot water and was thankful. I suppose I 
ate the black bread too, bad as it was, for I was very 

How to describe the days that followed, slow-paced, 
monotonous, yet each one filled with its special meed 
of suffering? On one of the first days a grim woman 
came in and stripped me of my underclothes, substi- 
tuting coarse and unclean garments marked with the 
number of my cell, which was 70. No prison dress 


seemed to be provided, so I was allowed to keep my 
own. But in the process of undressing the woman 
discovered a slender gold bracelet which I had worn 
day and night for many years and which was locked 
on my arm. She called Koutzmine and his guard of 
soldiers and they, indignant that they had overlooked 
a single article of value, began to force the bracelet 
over my hand. As the little circlet was not intended 
to go over my hand their efforts caused me such pain 
that I screamed in spite of myself. Touched, or per- 
haps merely annoyed at this, Koutzmine suggested to 
the soldiers that if I would promise not to give the 
bracelet to anyone I might be allowed to keep it. But 
his suggestion met with no sympathy and the bracelet 
was finally forced over my bruised hand. 

The awful food and the still more awful solitude 
were daily afflictions, and I think they were really the 
worst of all. Twice a day a soldier brought in a nause- 
ous dish, a kind of soup made of the bones and skin of 
fish, none too fresh. Sometimes, if the soldier 
happened to be in an especially vicious mood, he spat 
in the soup before giving it to me, and more than once 
I found small pieces of glass among the bones. Yet so 
ravenous was my hunger that I actually swallowed 
enough of the vile stuff to keep myself alive. Only by 
holding my nose with my fingers was I able to get a^ 
few spoonfuls down my throat. What was left I 
was careful to pour into the filthy toilet, for I had been 
told that unless I ate what was given me I would be 
left to starve. Hot water and black bread continued 
to be doled out in small quantities, but there was never 
any tea. No food was allowed to be given the 


prisoners even when it was brought to the fortress by 
relatives and friends. Neither was any kind of occu- 
pation given the wretched captives. We were not even 
allowed to clean our own cells, a soldier coming in once 
a week to wipe up the wet and slimy floors. When I 
begged the privilege of doing this myself the soldier 
replied: "A prisoner who works is not a prisoner at 
all." It is true that when he has absolutely nothing 
to do he is worse than a prisoner, he is a living corpse. 
Actual death being too merciful for political 
prisoners, we were taken out, one by one, for ten 
minutes every day. The exercise ground was a small 
grassy court where a few shrubs and trees gave promise 
of green leaves later on. No words can describe the 
relief, the blessed joy that those few moments of light 
and air and the sight of the blue sky brought to my 
heart. It seemed to me that I lived only for those 
moments. Of course the walled court was well 
guarded by armed soldiers and never once did their 
fierce eyes ever leave me. Still it was a bit of God's 
beautiful world, a breath of His sweet air, and I 
breathed it deep into my soul, keeping it there for hope 
and comfort until the next day came. In the center 
of the court was a small and dingy bath house where, 
on Fridays and Saturdays, the prisoners were treated 
to a sort of a bath. On those days we were not per- 
mitted to walk, but I for one did not complain of this. 
Any respite from the gravelike existence of the cells 
was a blessing. It was still very cold and when I lay 
down for the night I never removed my clothes. I had 
two woolen handkerchiefs, or rather, head kerchiefs, 
and one of these I tied over my head and the other I 


wrapped around my shoulders for warmth. Usually 
I slept until about four o'clock when the bells of a 
church hard by broke into my slumbers. After that I 
tried to doze, but very soon came the tramp of boots on 
the stones of the corridors and the crash of wood which 
the soldiers brought in each day for their stoves, I 
always woke up shivering and my first move was to- 
wards a corner of my cell where the stones were dry 
and a little warm from the stove outside. Here I 
huddled and shook until the hot water and the black 
bread were thrust in. I had never fully recovered 
from my illness and the cold and damp brought on 
first a pleurisy and afterwards a racking cough. I was 
so weak that sometimes in crossing from the bed to 
what I called the warm corner I slipped and fell and 
lay on the wet floor unable to rise. The soldier who 
thus found me, if he were of the half decent sort, 
would pick me up and throw me on the plank bed. 
Otherwise he would merely kick me. 

For the first two weeks I spent in the Troubetskoy 
Bastion the only attendants were men. The soldiers 
had the keys to the cells and the complete freedom of 
the corridors. The first lot were men of the 3rd 
Rifle Regiment of Petrograd, but within a few days 
some of them were shifted and their places were taken 
by a miscellaneous force from one of the most unruly of 
the mutinous reserves. Riots and fights between the 
two bands became an almost daily occurrence and the 
nerves of the prisoners were tortured by the yells and 
blows of the battle. My only comfort, aside from the 
ten minutes' respite of the exercise ground, was in the 
wall-tapping between my cell and Mme. Soukhom- 


linoff's. This had developed into a regular code and 
we managed to carry on, by alternately long and short 
taps, quite lucid conversations. Once to our fright the 
Governor of the bastion, Chkoni, caught us at this for- 
bidden game and threatened us, if it happened again, 
with the dark, cell, a place of unknown horrors, as we 
knew, for we had listened to the groans and cries of the 
former police chief Belezky while he suffered there. 
After the warning of Chkoni Mme. Soukhomlinoff and 
I communicated with each other only in the middle of 
the night when the snores of the soldiers in the corri- 
dors guaranteed a degree of safety. Without these 
cautiously tapped-out conversations I really do not 
know how I should have lived and kept sane. 

The cough which had been afflicting me grew worse 
rather than better and the only relief that was offered 
me was a primitive kind of cupping which did the cough 
no good but covered my chest with black and blue 
bruises. Finally, at the request of the sanitary soldier 
who had done the cupping, the prison doctor was sent 
for. This man, whose name was Serebrianikoff, was 
one of the most dreadful persons I ever came in contact 
with. He had a red, malicious face, his clothes and 
person were revoltingly dirty, and to increase their ef- 
fect he wore on his bulging waistcoat a huge red bow, 
emblem of his revolutionary ardor. When he came into 
my cell he literally tore the clothes from my back in a 
pretended examination, then turning to the soldiers in 
the doorway he shouted: "This woman is the worst 
of the whole lot; an absolute idiot from a life of vice." 
Slapping me on one cheek and then on the other, he 
began to ask me questions which I cannot repeat here 


of my alleged orgies with Rasputine, with Nicholas and 
"Alice" as he called the Empress. Even the soldiers 
looked disgusted and I shuddered away from him sick 
with repulsion. That night I was so far gone phys- 
ically and mentally that I could not answer Mme. Souk- 
homlinoff when she tapped on the wall. All I could do 
was to cough and shiver and in an incoherent, half mad 
fashion pray: "My God, my God, hast Thou for- 
saken me?" 

The next morning the soldier who brought my hot 
water and bread thought me dying and insisted in send- 
ing again for the unspeakable Serebrianikoff, although 
I begged him not to. "Send a woman, I implore you," 
I whispered. But there was no woman to send, and the 
prison doctor came instead. Declaring that I was 
merely shamming, this brute again struck me In the 
face and left saying: "I'll punish you for this. 
There'll be no exercise for you for two weeks after you 
think yourself well enough to go out." He kept his 
word, and for two weeks after I ceased to be acutely 
ill I rem.ained all day in my cell weeping for the clean 
air and a sight of the blue sky. Little trickles of pale 
sunlight were beginning to steal through my barred 
windows, the cold was less Intense and I knew that 
outside, In the world of freedom, the spring had 

One little bit of good news came at this time. 
Women wardresses had been appointed to look after 
the special needs of the women prisoners. Two at- 
tendants from a women's prison were the first to arrive, 
but they were so shocked at the conditions they found 
in the fortress that they refused to stay. They were 


replaced by others, one a saucy young person whose sole 
energies went into flirtations with the soldiers, and an 
older woman with melancholy dark eyes and the best 
and kindest of hearts. I cannot tell her name because 
if she is still alive and in Russia she must be in the 
employ of the Bolsheviki. I will call her simply the 
Woman. Her kindness to me I can never repay, but 
at least I shall never forget it, especially since I knew 
that every kind act she did was at her own personal 
risk. The Woman was on duty only until nine o'clock 
at night and was never allowed to enter my cell alone. 
Yet she often managed cleverly to follow slowly when 
she and the guard left the cell, and she frequently 
dropped on the floor behind her little pieces of sausage, 
chocolate, or bread nearly white. In the cell we dared 
not talk, but when she took me to the bath house we 
exchanged whispered conversations, and through her I 
got a little news of the exciting events of the time. The 
Provisional Government was tottering and the star of 
Kerensky was rising rapidly. The Imperial Family 
were still at Tsarskoe Selo, prisoners but alive, and that 
knowledge gave me a new impulse to live. 

I must record one especially kind act my new 
friend did in my behalf. Easter Sunday came, and 
sitting on my hard bed I ventured to sing softly a verse 
or two of a well-remembered Easter hymn. On the 
Good Friday preceding we had been allowed to leave 
our cells one by one under guard and to confess to a 
good old priest, whose distress at our sorry plight so 
moved him that he heard our confessions with great 
tears in his eyes. Earnestly this old priest had begged 
Kerensky to allow him to visit prisoners in their cells 


and do what he could for their comfort, but Kerensky 
curtly refused. 

I was thinking of him on this Easter morning. The 
soldiers had been running through the corridors calling 
to one another, perhaps in jest, perhaps as a matter of 
habit, the Russian greeting: "Kristos Voskrese," 
Christ is risen, to which the response is: "Voistino 
Voskrese," He is risen indeed. I could see that the 
soldiers had plates of the sugary cheese which every- 
body eats at Easter and which some of the prisoners 
received. Not I, because I was considered too wicked, 
too vile. Nevertheless, because of the trickle of sun- 
shine that stole through the bars of my window, and 
because the old priest had really given me great com- 
fort, I began to sin^. Instantly the soldiers outside 
commanded me rudely to keep silent. It was too 
much. I laid my head down on the rags that formed 
my pillow and began to cry miserably. Then my hand 
strayed under the pillow, touching something. It was 
a little red Easter egg left there by the Woman, to 
make me feel that even in that place I was not entirely 
friendless. Never did a gift come as such a joyful 
surprise. I hugged it to my heart, kissed it and 
thanked God. 

I was not forsaken. Indeed the worst was already 
passed for me, for the next day I was told that on 
every Friday after I was to receive a visit from my 
parents, whom I had feared I was never to see again 
on earth. 


VISITORS in prison! Who but one who has 
spent days and nights of anguished loneliness 
behind bolted doors can possibly imagine the joy of 
such anticipation? I looked forward, almost as 
toward freedom itself, to the first Friday when I should 
see my beloved parents. I pictured myself running 
forward to embrace them, I could see my father's kind 
and loving smile, my mother's blue eyes full of happy 
tears. How we would sit, hand in hand, and talk over 
all that had happened since our parting! They would 
bring me news, messages, perhaps even letters from 
those other captives in Tsarskoe Selo. I should hear 
that the children were well again and the Empress's 
deepest anxieties were removed. 

Alas ! the harsh reality of my foolish dreams. When 
the day came I limped, between armed soldiers, 
through the long, gray corridors to the visitors' room, 
and there at the end of a long wooden table which 
divided us like an impassable gulf I saw my mother. 
There was no embrace allowed, not even a touch of 
hands. My mother tried to smile, tried to look at me 
with the love I craved, but in spite of herself her face 
paled and an expression of horror congealed her fea- 
tures. I stood there before her white with the pasty 
whiteness of prison, my uncombed, unkempt hair hang- 
ing about my shoulders, my dress dirty and wrinkled 



and an unhealed cut ploughing a bloody furrow across 
my forehead. To the question she dared not ask I 
touched the ugly wound and told her it was nothing, 
nothing. I could have told her that a soldier named 
Izotov, in a fit of animal temper, had knocked me 
against the edge of the cell door, and that the cut 
had received absolutely no attention since. Had we 
been alone I should have wept the whole story out 
on her breast, but we were not alone. Standing over 
us like inquisitors were the Procureur of Petrograd 
and the terrible Chkoni, governor of the Troubetskoy 
Bastion, and afterwards governor of the fortress it- 
self. Ten minutes only were allowed us, and at the 
end of eight fleeting minutes Chkoni, watch in hand, 
roared out: "Two minutes left. Finish your talk." 
But we had no talk. Sobs choked our words, the few 
commonplace words that in such circumstances can be 
spoken. We could only bid each other be brave and 
trust in God's mercy. We could but gaze and gaze 
at each other through streaming tears. Then they 
separated us. 

When the next Friday came I resolved to make my- 
self a little more presentable. I had no mirror but I 
begged the Woman to loan me a small, cracked frag- 
ment. They had taken away all my toilet articles and 
every single hairpin, but the Woman gave me two 
hairpins of her own and, combing my hair with my 
fingers I arranged it more or less neatly. Every day 
I washed and cared for the cut on my forehead and 
when the visiting hour at last arrived I fancied that I 
looked rather more like myself. This time the pre- 
cious ten minutes were spent with my father, and be- 


cause he had been prepared in advance for the wretched 
object his daughter had become our brief interview 
was less emotional than that of the preceding Friday. 
Brave and erect my father held himself before those 
brutal jailers, and my heart glowed with love and pride 
to see him. We managed to exchange a few sentences 
and my father told me that he had obtained permission 
to send me money to buy tea and a few other com- 
forts. He told me that he and my mother had waited 
three hours to see me and because it had been ruled 
that they could not both be admitted on the same day 
that my mother was standing close to the door of the 
next room just to catch the faint sound of my voice. 
These words roused Chkoni to a perfect fury. "So!" 
He fairly yelled. "But I'll spoil that game," and 
rushing out he slammed the door between the two 
rooms. My father flushed crimson but he spoke no 
word nor, of course, did I. A single protest might 
have meant punishment for me, and for us all no more 

I saw my father only three times, my mother a 
little oftener, as her health was the better of the two. 
The money my father sent me did not reach me except 
in very minute sums. By far the greater part of it 
was kept by the jailers, and gambled away. Not satis- 
fied with that, the men warned my father that nothing 
except payment to the prison heads would save me 
from death, or worse still from assault by the soldiers. 
My father had long ago been deprived of his income, 
but he and my mother sold some valuables and gave 
it to the blackmailers who wanted it only for more 
gambling. Their sacrifice gave my parents a little 


peace of mind, but it did not save me from three of 
the most horrible nights I spent in the fortress. On 
each of these nights my cell was invaded by drunken 
soldiers who threatened me with unspeakable things. 
On the first occasion I simply groveled on the wet floor 
and prayed the man, in the name of his mother and 
mine, to let me alone, and, drunk as he was, my words 
actually penetrated his dark soul and shamed it. The 
next men were less drunk but were far more bestial. 
At the sight of them I threw myself against the wall 
and pounded frantically, screaming at the top of my 
lungs. Mme. Soukhomllnoff heard and understood. 
She screamed too, frightfully, and with all her might 
shook the heavy door of her cell. This brought the 
guard and once more I was saved. The third time I 
was so paralyzed with fright that I could not scream. 
I simply fell on my knees, holding up my little ikon, 
and begged like a trapped animal. The man hesitated 
a moment, spat on me contemptuously, and left. The 
next day, half dead with shame and fear, I managed 
to tell the Woman all that had passed. Indignantly 
she went to the Governor of the fortress, and after 
that even I, "the worst woman in prison," was spared 
the ultimate insult. 

Although we could not know it, things were gradu- 
ally changing for the better in the fortress. A little 
physical Improvement was apparent. The cold had 
lessened and in our short walks in the prison yard we 
could see that lovely spring, with its fresh green leaves 
and springing flowers, had come to stay. I remember 
one day seeing In the grass a little yellow flower. It 
may have been a buttercup or a dandelion or some- 


thing else we ordinarily call weeds, but to my eyes it 
was an exquisite thing. Audaciously I stooped and 
picked it, hiding it quickly in the bosom of my dress. 
The next visiting day I showed it to my father and 
dropped it on the table. On leaving the room he con- 
trived to get hold of it and after his death in 191 8 I 
found it, carefully preserved among his private papers. 
I never picked another flower in that prison yard, 
although once I tried. But this time a guard caught 
me, and struck the flower from my hand with the end 
of his rifle. 

Things were improving under the surface, but aside 
from the welcome change in the weather conditions 
seemed for a time no better. In the cell adjoining 
that of Mme. Soukhomlinoff was my old friend 
General Voyeikoff, who was tortured almost as piti- 
lessly as myself. My heart ached for him. In cell 
69 was for some time the police detective Manouiloff, 
but when he was removed to another prison the writer 
Kolichko was placed in the cell. Kolichko, poor 
wretch, was so overcome by his arrest and imprison- 
ment that during the first nights he sobbed so long and 
bitterly that I found it impossible to sleep. I was so 
unhappy that I began to pray for death, and once I 
even resolved to end my life. I had no weapon but a 
rusty needle which I had picked up and carefully con- 
cealed, but I had heard somewhere that there was a 
spot at the base of the brain which if punctured ever 
so little would cause death. Before seeking that spot 
I felt that I must say adieu to my brave little friend 
Mme. Soukhomlinoff, and so softly I rapped out a fare- 
well message on the wall. Her quick mind instantly 


divined my intention and without losing any time she 
sent for the Woman and my rusty needle was taken 
away from me. 

It began to be sultry in the Troubetskoy Bastion and 
the air in the cells became thick and foul. My small 
window, which looked out on a narrow court and a 
high wall, admitted little light and no breeze at all. 
I used to climb painfully up on the iron shelf which 
did duty for a table and pressing my face close to the 
bars I breathed in all the air possible. Instead of 
seeking the warm corner of my cell I now sat for 
hours together with my body against the wettest and 
coldest stones. My despondency increased every day, 
and I almost ceased to pray or to believe that the uni- 
verse held any God to whom the prayers of captives 
could ascend. Yet all the time God was sending me 

One day a soldier came to my cell and roughly bade 
me get up and go with two guards for examination. 
Not knowing exactly what that meant, I rose from my 
cot and followed the men to a room in the fortress 
where the High Commission of Inquiry appointed 
by Kerensky was then in session. Bewildered by the 
sudden transition from the bastion to a room full of 
comfortable furniture, and almost blinded by the bril- 
liant light and sunshine, I had all I could do to answer 
their few inconsequential questions. I have described 
this first examination in another chapter, and I shall 
not repeat it here. It was so foolish that afterwards 
in my hot and ill-smelling cell I actually found myself 
laughing, and it had been a long time since I had 
laughed. Judge Roudneff, the only one of the com- 


mission who showed himself fair-minded or even 
capable of just judgment, was present at the inquiry, 
but I do not think he said a word. Afterwards he was 
charged with full responsibility of my case, and I ap- 
peared before him no less than fifteen times. At the 
close of the first of these personal interviews I thanked 
Judge Roudneff warmly. Astonished, he asked: "For 
what do you thank me?" And I answered: "For the 
happiness of four whole hours of sitting in a room 
with a window, and through it a glimpse of green 
trees." He did not reply except with a kind and sym- 
pathetic look, but I knew that his heart was touched, 
and that he received a new conception of what life 
meant to a prisoner. 

Better things still were to come. Without our being 
aware of it the revolutionary mania had begun to sub- 
side a little and those men among our guards who had 
once been clean and decent were now getting back to 
their normal state of mind. Poor soldiers ! Never 
let me forget that they were not to blame for the tor- 
ments they inflicted on me and other prisoners. It was 
not they who invented the black calumnies that made 
me seem a creature undeserving of mercy or any 
clemency. It was not they who fashioned the cross 
on which I was crucified. The soldiers did only what 
they were incited to do by men and women far above 
them, people who conspired to crush me that they 
might crush the Empress. The soldiers I forgive, but 
I cannot yet forgive those others. The fate of the 
Imperial Family, the ruin of Russia, is on their souls. 
For what they did they have never shown any peni- 
tence, but those rough soldiers in the fortress re- 


pented and did what they could in atonement. One 

of the head guards was a man, handsome In a rustic 

sort of fashion, who at first had treated me with great 

insolence. One morning this man opened my door, 

hesitated for a moment, and then said in a low voice: 

"I am very sorry for you. Please take this," and 

vanished. "This" was an apple and a small piece of 

white bread. Another morning the soldier who 

brought my breakfast spoke in a grumbling aside but 

loudly enough for me to hear: "What idiocy to keep a 

poor sick woman in this place." One night the window 

in my cell door was pushed aside and in a trembling 

voice someone begged me to give him my hand. Tears 

fell on it while the unseen friend told me that he was 

a boy from Samara, and that it broke his heart to see 

women caged like beasts in such holes. He must have 

had a good mother, that boy. Perhaps they all had, 

for it became almost a habit for men passing through 

my corridor to slip me bits of bread, sausage, or sugar. 

The most wonderful piece of good fortune came 

through the soldier in charge of the prison library. 

This man visited my cell one day, and after giving me 

a keen look which I could not understand he laid the 

library catalogue on my cot and went out. I had little 

interest in the dull books at our disposal, but when one 

sits hours in utter idleness he makes occupation out of 

almost nothing. I opened the catalogue and turned 

the leaves. To my astonishment out fell a folded 

paper. Cautiously I opened it and read these words: 

"Dear Anushka, I am sorry for you. If you have five 

rubles I can get a letter to your mother." For a long 

time after the incriminating paper had been destroyed 


I sat trembling in doubt and foreboding. I had barely 
five rubles, and if I gave them would they be gambled 
away? Was the letter a trap? Was it merely an 
effort to get me into trouble? I did not know, but 
on a bit of blank paper left in the catalogue I wrote 
with my stub of a pencil : *'I have suffered so much 
already that I cannot believe that you wish to do me 
any more harm." Folding the five rubles and the 
paper into a tiny note, I tucked it into the catalogue 
and waited. After a while the librarian returned, and 
this time I read in his silent gaze that he was asking 
for my confidence. The next day he came back and 
again left the catalogue on my bed. This time I seized 
it eagerly and shook its leaves. A letter from my 
mother dropped out, a short letter, for she had been 
given only a few minutes to write, but I read and 
reread it until I knew every word by heart. 

Then began a smuggled correspondence with my 
father and mother, they gladly giving money to the 
men who risked their own liberty by carrying the let- 
ters back and forth. The letters reached me in prison 
books, in the sheets of my bed, under the tin basin 
which held my food, and once even in a soldier's sock 
dropped carelessly on the floor. In this sock was con- 
cealed a note from Lili Dehn, free now and in cor- 
respondence with the family at Tsarskoe Selo. There 
was a slip of paper enclosed with a tiny white flower 
glued to it, and in the Empress's handwriting: "God 
keep you." Another precious souvenir of the Empress 
sent me by my mother was a little moonstone ring long 
ago given me at Tsarskoe. Tearing a rag from the 
lining of my coat, I made a bag for this jewel, and 


begging a safety pin from the Woman, I pinned it 
inside my dress. The poor librarian. This was the 
last favor he ever did me, for falling under the sus- 
picion of the Governor, he was abruptly discharged. 
The letters, however, had done me so much good that 
I was in every way better and more cheerful. I felt 
in touch with the world again. I knew in a general 
way what was going on, and though not all the news 
was pleasant it gave me a sense of being alive and not 
altogether hopeless. I knew now what tireless efforts 
were being made in my behalf, and I felt that in the 
end something must come of them. My parents had 
done everything humanly possible to move Kerensky 
but without any definite success. The first appoint- 
ment with him was made through his secretary Chal- 
pern, and although my parents were naturally exactly 
on time Kerensky kept them waiting for two hours. 
When at last they were received my parents were told 
that the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Rasputine, 
and Viroubova were responsible for the Revolution 
and would have to suffer for it. My parents 
had heard this before, but it was new to them 
to hear from Kerensky that he knew that I had 
had a great many diamonds from the Arch- 
bishop Pitirim and for that and other reasons 
nothing could be done for me. Later he softened a 
little and ended the interview by promising that my 
whole affair would be investigated. My parents then 
contrived an interview with the minister of Justice, 
Pereverzeff. They made two appointments in fact, 
for the first one Pereverzeff deliberately broke, going 
out for the day while my parents sat waiting in an 


ante-room. The next time my mother went to the 
Ministry she was received and was civilly treated. 
Pereverzeff also promised that a fair investigation 
would be made. By this time the Special Commission 
of Inquiry was sitting" and my mother m.anaged to see 
the president, Mouravieff. She took with her a letter 
from his brother to me before the abdication of the 
Emperor. In this letter I was warned of plots against 
me and was advised to leave the palace. I had re- 
plied to this letter, and my mother had a copy of my 
reply. I had written that I would never leave the 
Empress. My conscience was clean before God and 
man and I would remain to the end where God had 
placed me. I was astonished that a soldier should 
advise me to run away from a battlefield. Mouravieff 
who at first had been very harsh, changed after reading 
the letters. He even asked my mother to allow him 
to read them to the commission. They were signifi- 
cant, he said. As soon as my case had been referred 
to Judge Roudneff he called my parents to the Winter 
Palace, where he had his office, and talked with them, 
asking a great many questions, for nearly four hours. 
In this examination, for it was really that, my father 
and mother were allowed for the first time to defend 
me, to make explanations of obscure charges, to tell 
my life story to the man who was to judge me. No 
one else gave them such an opportunity, not even the 
Georgian deputy Cheidze, then very prominent in the 
Petrograd Soviet. Cheidze was kind and said that 
he would do anything in his power to help me to get 
justice, but I do not think he ever did anything. Mem- 
bers of the Provisional Government, Rodzianko and 


Lvoff, to whom, while they were still in power, my 
parents had written begging to be received, never even 
replied to the letters. 

One day, sitting in my cell and remembering what 
had been written me in the smuggled letters, another 
wonderful thing happened. In the noon meal of fish 
soup which I must eat or starve I found a large piece 
of really decent meat. I ate it greedily, of course, and 
the next day I ate another piece which had mysteriously 
arrived. I took the first opportunity to ask the 
Woman where the food came from, and she told me 
that it was a cook, a poor man whose duty it was to 
carry food to our bastion. He too pitied me, she said, 
and she thought he might be willing to run almost any 
risk for me. So almost at once I was again in corre- 
spondence with my parents. This cook did more than 
carry letters, the brave man. He brought me food, 
chocolates, clean clothes, linen, stockings, and even a 
fresh frock. Growing bolder, he ventured regularly 
to take away my soiled linen and to replace it with 
clean things. All during those months in the fortress 
I had washed my linen and stockings in cold water, 
without soap, and in the night had hung them up in 
the warm corner on a hook improvised from a broken 
hairpin. Of course they were never clean, nor even, 
when I put them on, very dry, and now they were stiff 
with dirt. Can anyone imagine what it was to me to 
feel a clean, soft, smooth chemise against my skin? 

I am sure the cook could never have done so much 
for me had not the guards closed their eyes to his 
activities. They were nearly all friendly now, and 
used to talk with me through the window in my door. 


In spring a number of pigeons flocked around the 
fortress and their constant sobbing voices got on my 
nerves. I spoke of this to one soldier who expressed 
surprise. "I was shut up here once," he said, "under 
the old Government, and I didn't find the birds bad 
at all. I used to feed them through the window." 
"You had a window in your cell," I exclaimed. "Then 
it couldn't have been as bad as this." And he assured 
me that it wasn't as bad under the Autocracy as under 
the beneficent Provisional Government and the Soviet. 
The prisoners had much better food and they .could 
exercise two hours a day in the open. 

Another prisoner of the Tsar's government,_ a non- 
commissioned officer named Diki, who had been very 
harsh to me in the beginning, now showed me kindness. 
Instead of robbing me, as of old, of every little 
privilege, he began to allow me an extra five minutes 
or so In the courtyard, he, too, saying that In the 
old days prisoners were better treated. Another of 
the guards in the courtyards, a man whom I had bit- 
terly hated, and with cause, told the Woman that he 
wanted to speak to me. Afterwards while walking he 
approached me and I looked Into his coarse face, 
deeply pitted with smallpox, and listened In fear at 
what he might have to say. Stammeringly he told me 
that he had just returned from a leave spent In his 
home In the Government of Saratoff. Visiting his 
sister's house, he was amazed to see, hanging under the 
ikon in the corner of the room, a photograph of me. 
"What!" he had exclaimed. "Do you have that 
shameless woman's picture in your house?" Where- 
upon his brother-in-law retorted: "Never dare to 


speak against her who was like a mother to me for 
two years in Tsarskoe. I was m her own hospital in 
the end, and it was like Heaven." The brother-in-law 
had charged the guard with all kinds of messages to 
me, telling him that they prayed for me daily in his 
family and hoped for my release. "Forgive me for 
being unjust to you," said the poor soldier, and offered 
me his hand. This was the first news I had of my 
hospital, and I learned with joy that the Pro- 
visional Government had not closed it. Later I 
heard that the Government had not only carried 
on my work but had added five new buildings. 
None of my nurses or orderlies had left, though 
their openly expressed faith in me might easily have 
secured their dismissal. Some of the invalids had 
petitioned the Duma for my release, and another 
group, indignant because a revolutionary newspaper 
declined to publish their letter refuting the usual 
slanders about me, wanted to leave the hospital long 
enough to blow up the office building! They were 
good at heart, those misguided Russian soldiers, those 
poor ignorant children. I know them, and whatever 
they have been forced to do in these years of horror, I 
still believe them sound and good of soul. In the last 
days of my imprisonment in Peter and Paul the guards 
did not even lock my cell door. They used to linger 
and talk, and sometimes they brought paper and pen- 
cils that I might make sketches of them to take home. 
I was rather clever with a pencil in those days. 


TIE prison had changed, and except for an occa- 
sional riot or a fight between two drinking 
soldiers, it was almost peaceful. For now there was 
a man attached to the fortress, a man so brave and 
kind, and above all so commanding that terrors fled 
before him — Dr. Ivan Manouchine. The gratitude 
and respect with which I write his name cannot be ex- 
pressed in words. It was on the 23rd of April, the 
name day of the Empress, ever a day of memories to 
me, that this good man came into the house of pain 
where lay the prisoners of the Provisional Govern- 
ment. A fe\y weeks before this the soldiers, gradually 
recovering from their first revolutionary blood lust, 
had begun to revolt against the needless brutality of 
the prison doctor, Serebrianikoff, and had finally sent in 
to the all powerful Kerensky a request for his demis- 
sion. In those days Kerensky, whose ambition to be 
at the head of the government was maturing, made a 
special point of granting soldiers' petitions, and he 
really consented to replace Serebrianikoff with a physi- 
cian of reputation. From the point of view of the 
Duma Dr. Manouchine was entirely a safe man to be 
appointed. He was a republican in politics, and he 
conformed to the popular superstition of "dark forces" 
surrounding the court. But what the Duma did not 

know about Dr. Manouchine was that he had a heart 



of gold and a mind that was ruled not by any political 
party but by principles of right and justice. 

When the new prison doctor first came into my cell, 
accompanied by the retiring man looking frightened 
and ill at ease, I was lying on my cot in a mood of un- 
usual rebellion. In a quiet, professional voice he asked 
me how I felt, and when he examined my poor chest 
and saw it black and blue and swollen from the clumsy 
cupping it had received, he frowned with displeasure. 
He gave some quick directions for my relief and in a 
gentle tone assured me that he intended to visit the 
bastion every day. It was the first time in many long 
weeks that I had been spoken to by the type of man we 
call a gentleman, and after the door closed behind him 
something In my frozen heart seemed to melt like 
icicles in the sun. Almost with the faith of childhood 
I fell on my knees and prayed, and after that I lay 
down and slept for several hours. 

Every day soon after the booming of the noonday 
gun he came and every one among us stood up as 
close as possible to the cell doors, waiting to catch 
the first sound of his voice as he came down the cor- 
ridor. At every door he stopped and asked the health 
of the prisoner. To him they were not prisoners but 
patients, and he treated them with all the skill and, 
above all, the courtesy he would have accorded the 
richest and most powerful of his patients. He exam- 
ined our food and pronounced it entirely unsuited 
to our needs. He did not stop there, but in the end 
succeeded in greatly improving the ration and supple- 
menting it for the sick with milk and eggs. How he 
did it in the Russia of those days I cannot imagine. I 


only know that Dr. Manouchine had a will of steel, 
and against that will and the staunch uprightness of 
his character malice and fanaticism broke like waves 
against a rock. Little by little Dr. Manouchine in- 
stituted other reforms. The prisoners now received 
at least a part of the money furnished by their friends 
outside, and once a week the non-commissioned officer 
Diki went through the prison answering requests for 
such necessities as soap, tooth powder, and paper on 
which petitions to the Governor of the fortress might 
be written. Often when a prisoner lacked money to 
pay for these things the doctor supplied it out of .his 
own pocket. 

Meanwhile my examinations under the stern but just 
commissioner Roudneff were going on. Weary under 
the long and apparently pointless inquisition, I asked 
Dr. Manouchine one day how much longer he thought 
they intended to torment me. His reply was grave. 
"Not long, I think. But before it Is over you may 
have to undergo a still more trying ordeal." A few 
day later he came to my cell alone; that Is, he resolutely 
closed the door between us and his usual escort of 
soldiers, and told me in his kindest manner that the 
Special Commission of Inquiry had almost concluded 
that the charges against me were without foundation. 
One more proof, however, was necessary, a physician's 
sworn statement that the hideous accusations of vice 
made by enemies of the Emperor and Empress and 
their closest friends were false. Would I, for my own 
sake, for the sake of the Imperial Family, submit to a 
medical examination? Without at all knowing what 
was implied I gave an instant but rather frightened 


consent to any examination he thought necessary. . . . 
It was a terrible ordeal for a woman to live through. 
Most of the questions asked me were of a nature which 
appalled me, and yet were beyond my understanding. 
I cannot here repeat even the least of them, I can only 
say that they opened up to me an abyss of wickedness 
and sin which I had not dreamed existed in the human 
soul. ... At the end of an hour — or many hours — 
of trial, I lay on my bed, hands clasped over my eyes, 
spent, exhausted, utterly incapable of speech. Up to 
the very end Dr. Manouchine's manner had been that 
of a physician, but now that it was over it was a friend 
beyond anything Human and sympathetic who laid his 
hand on my quivering shoulder and said: "This clears 
you absolutely. They will take my word for it." 

Towards the end of May, a hot and wearying sea- 
son, the fortress was visited by the head of the Pro- 
visional Government's Commission of Inquiry, a pom- 
pous man, yet in his cautious way, rather kindly. Paus- 
ing before my cell, he told me that no crime had been 
fastened upon me and that I might hope soon to be 
transferred to a better place. Hope gave me new life 
momentarily, but as the days dragged on my hope gave 
way to bitter unbelief. My health always since my 
arrest indifferent, now began to decline and I could see 
that the doctor was seriously concerned for me. He 
came to the prison only four times a week now, and 
what ages seemed to elapse between his visits. All I 
had left of courage his voice and ministrations gave 

One hot June day I was aroused from my sick 
lethargy by the tramping of heavy boots on the stones 


of the corridor. The heavy cell door swung open and 
I saw a crowd of strange men, several of whom un- 
ceremoniously invaded my cell and began an examina- 
tion of my poor effects. Frightened, I watched them 
as they disdainfully picked up and threw aside the few 
rags a prisoner is allowed, but my fears were allayed 
when I saw in the background the tall figure of the 
doctor. "Do not be afraid, Anna Alexandrovna," he 
said. "This is only a committee of revision of prison- 
ers." Later I heard him say to the committee : "This 
woman may have only a few days to live. If you are 
willing you may take on yourselves the responsibility 
of her death. As a physician I refuse to do so." 

The next day he whispered to me that he was con- 
fident that I would be taken away, but that my release 
might be delayed a little because of renewed riots 
among the prison guards. He did not know where I 
was to be taken, and I feared it would be the Women's 
Prison, which the Woman had told me was almost as 
bad as the Troubetskoy Bastion. But soon I was re- 
lieved of that nightmare, for the doctor came again 
bringing me the good news that I should probably be 
taken to the House of Detention in a pleasant neigh- 
borhood on the other side o! the river. In groups the 
friendly soldiers came to say good-bye and to assure 
me that even should the mutinous guards oppose my 
going they would see to it that I got safely way. Days 
went by, sleepless nights, and still no order of release 
arrived. I became almost hysterical with suspense. I 
gave way to dreadful fits of weeping until even the 
doctor grew stern and bade me control myself. I felt 
like a mouse under the teasing claws of a cat, and 


control was difficult even after I learned that the doctor 
had persuaded some members of the central committee 
of the Petrograd Soviet to visit the fortress and to 
reason with the mutinous guards. 

Almost the last day of June, at six in the evening, I 
was standing barefooted and half dressed against the 
cool, wet wall of my cell thinking of my mother who, 
the-day before, had visited me. Her face was brighter 
than usual and she had said to me: "The next time 
we meet it may be in better circumstances." At the 
moment my door opened and the hated Chkoni ap- 
peared. "Well," he said, with his usual sneer, "did 
you have hysterics after seeing your mother?" "Cer- 
tainly not," I replied coldly. "No?" he commented, 
"I thought you might because to-morrow or the next 
day they may take you away." I fell against the wall 
too overcome to speak, too blind to see the hands of 
the guard pressing my limp hand in congratulation. To- 
morrow or next day ! The words repeated themselves 
in my brain countless times. But I was not even to 
wait until to-morrow, though Chkoni evidently wished 
me to think so. I heard the voice of the younger and 
less familiar wardress : "Dress yourself quickly. The 
doctor is bringing a deputation from the Soviet." I 
had nothing to put on except my ragged shoes and a 
torn gray woolen jacket, but these I rapidly seized 
while the wardress picked up and made a bundle of my 
small belongings. On the opposite wall I heard brave 
Mme. Soukhomlinoff rapping out a farewell message 
to which I responded as well as I could. Then the 
deputation arrived, and the doctor. There was some 
confused talk. ... I cannot remember a word. . . . 


I felt myself picked up and carried down the winding 
corridors. The great door of the bastion rolled open 
and we passed out into the cool, delicious evening air. 
There was a motor car into which I was lifted, another 
car into which the doctor climbed, there were soldiers, 
some friendly, some seemingly determined that the 
cars should not leave the courtyard. I remember very 
little until we drove out of the gates and over the 
Troizky Bridge. The wind, the brilliant twilight, the 
sight of water and the blue sky, blinded me so that I 
had to cover my face with both hands. 

Within a short time the cars stopped at the Deten- 
tion House in the Fourshkatskaia Ulitza, and I was 
carried into the office of the commissioner. He was 
an officer, rather short in stature, but dignified and effi- 
cient. Offering me his hand, he asked me if I would be 
seated while he made out the necessary papers. I had 
time to see that the House of Detention promised to be 
quite different from a prison. Indeed the soldiers of 
this house would not even permit the entrance of the 
fortress guards who had come with me. As if he 
divined that I was too weak to walk upstairs the com- 
missioner gave orders that I was to be carried. It 
was into a large, light, clean room that they took me, 
and at my exclamation of joy at sight of windows the 
soldiers laughed heartily. But the doctor silenced 
them. "Go," he said, "see that her parents are tele- 
phoned, and send a woman to bathe and dress her." 
His own arms lifted me from the chair on which I half 
sat, half lay. On a bed softer and cooler than even 
existed In my memory he laid me, said good night, and 
gently left the room. 


I SPENT a happy and peaceful month in the Deten- 
tion House, the only disturbing event being the so- 
called July Revolution, the first serious attempt of 
Lenine's party to seize the government. The Soviet 
already transcended in power the old Provisional Gov- 
ernment, most of whose original members had by this 
time disappeared from politics. Kerensky was pre- 
mier, nominally, but only because a remnant of the 
Russian Army still resisted the separate peace propa- 
ganda and remained on duty at the front. 

Persons in the Detention House were prisoners in 
the sense that they were under guard and were not 
allowed to leave the house. The guards were com- 
placent, though, and visiting between the rooms was 
permitted. I soon found that I was the only woman in 
the place, and that some of the men there had suffered 
greater tortures than I. There were between eighty 
and ninety officers, almost the last remnant of the 
garrison of Kronstadt where in the first days of the 
Revolution the soldiers went quite mad and murdered, 
in ways too horrible to relate, a great many officers, 
and even young naval cadets against whom they could 
have had no possible grudge. The officers in the De- 
tention House were in a sad state of body and mind. 
We talked together sometimes in the dining room, and 
learning that they longed for the consolation of Holy 



Communion, I remembered that my hospital in 
Tsarskoe Selo possessed a movable altar and holy 
vessels. With the consent of Nadjaroff, commandant 
of the Detention House, the altar and my own priest 
were brought from Tsarskoe and the sacred ceremony 
was twice celebrated, the last time on July 29, my 

I ought to say of the commandant Nadjaroff that he 
was an excellent man, kind to the prisoners, and con- 
scientious in his work. The poor man had one fatal 
weakness, gambling. So strong a hold had this vice 
on an otherwise good man that when his money ran 
short he was not above borrowing and even begging 
from the prisoners and their friends. It seems almost 
too bad to record this blot on the character of a man 
who was kind and courteous to me, but I am trying to 
give the psychology as well as to portray the events of 
the Russian Revolution, and I must emphasize the fact 
that it was the weakness and self-indulgence of the 
people themselves that made the Revolution and its 
frightful aftermath possible. 

From my first day in the Detention House I began 
to recover my health and my self-control. My win- 
dows were not barred, and through the open casement 
I feasted my eyes on the beauty of grass and trees, on 
the familiar little church of Sts. Kosma and Damlan 
which stood almost opposite, and, strangest of all to 
me, of people walking or driving through the streets 
below. It took a few days for me to get used to a 
normal state of life, and at first, when night grew near, 
I was seized with such nervousness that they had to let 
a maid sleep in the room with me. As the fresh air and 


sunshine began to bring color to my face and I felt 
strength returning to my limbs I forgot my fears, and 
became something like the woman I had been before I 
was caged like a beast in the Fortress of Peter and 
Paul. Visitors were admitted both morning and after- 
noon, and I had the happiness of talking privately 
with my father and mother and with friends who still 
remained faithful. They brought me clothes, toilet 
articles, books, flowers, writing materials, and, best of 
all, news of what had happened during the months of 
my imprisonment. I learned of the rapid disintegra- 
tion of the army under the weak and ineffectual Pro- 
visional Government, the tottering state of Kerensky's 
regime, and the threatening domination of the Soviets. 
What was in store for Russia no one knew, happily for 
Russians. Of the fall of the Soviets and the rise of 
Bolshevism no one yet had any premonition. The 
radical element was already in control, and there was a 
great deal of threatening talk of shooting the Em- 
peror. However, the Imperial Family was still alive 
and in Tsarskoe Selo, which was as much as I had 
dared to hope. 

Of the events of the July Revolution, the forerunner 
of the Bolshevist triumph of November, 19 17, I know 
rather less than others who were at full liberty during 
that terrible week. It was about the i8th of the 
month, a brilliant summer day, when I was startled by 
long-continued shouting and bellowing of soldiers in a 
caserne not far from the house. In great excitement 
the men were running in and out of the yard calling on 
the tovarishi to arm themselves and join the uprising. 
As if by magic the streets filled with rough-looking 


people, singing wild songs, waving their arms, and 
forming processions behind huge scarlet banners on 
which I could read such inscriptions as "Down with the 
War!" "Down with the Provisional Government!" 
An endless line of these paraders passed and repassed, 
dirty, disorderly soldiers, equally dirty factory workers, 
yelling like crazed animals. Once in a while a gray 
motor truck would dash through the street, laden with 
shouting men and boys, rifles, and machine guns. In 
the distance we could hear shots and the ripping noise 
of the machine guns. 

Of course we were all horribly frightened, especially 
the officers from Kronstadt, who knew that in case of 
invasion not one of them would be left alive. We 
were all advised to leave our rooms and take refuge in 
the corridors, as at any time the rioters might begin 
firing through the windows. But we were not out of 
danger even there because many of the guards openly 
sympathized with the rioters, and the head guard was 
so jubilant over the course of events that he went 
around boasting that he was quite prepared to sur- 
render the house and all its inmates at the first demand 
of the Revolutionists. Some of the guards were bet- 
ter than this man, and one of them, a wearer of the St. 
George cross, said that in case of trouble he would try 
to get me to his sister's house, where I would be per- 
fectly safe. For two nights nobody slept or even 
undressed. In the room next to mine was lodged old 
General Belaieff, former War Minister, whom impris- 
onment had left a sad wreck. He, like the other 
officers, fully expected death, and I found myself in the 
novel role of a cool and collected comforter. I, who 










S 5. 















A Photograph Taken Shortly after Her Release from the Fortress of 
Peter and Paul, Petrograd. 


had lately been afraid to sleep in a room by myself, 
now went from one old soldier to another urging them 
to keep up hope. The days passed, and the firing came 
no nearer, and within a week troops summoned from 
the front took possession of the city. 

My examination under the High Commissioner 
Roudneff not being entirely finished, he came once or 
twice to the Detention House bringing with him on 
one occasion Korinsky, Procurator of Petrograd, a 
courteous gentleman, who at parting expressed a hope 
that I would soon be free. A few days later, August 
5, if I remember correctly, M. Korinsky himself tele- 
phoned that if my parents would call at his office they 
would be given my warrant of release. Alas, my par- 
ents happened to be In Terloke that day, but too 
impatient to wait until the morrow I telephoned my 
uncle Lachkereff, who immediately hastened to the 
Procurator's office for the coveted warrant. Trem- 
bling with excitement, I stood at my window with 
several of my good friends waiting the result of his 
errand. At six o'clock we heard a drosky driven at 
great speed over the cobbles, and as it came in sight we 
saw my uncle standing up and wildly waving the papers 
in his hand, "Free!" he called out. "Anna Alex- 
androvna, you are free !" The rest is confusion in 
my mind. There were laughter and sobs. People 
kissed and embraced me. I was In the drosky driving 
through Petrograd streets. I was In my uncle's house. 
The tea table was spread. It was like a dream. 

After prison one gets used to freedom by slow de- 
grees. It seems strange at first to be allowed to move 
about freely, to go to church, to walk, to drive, to go 


wherever one desires, through woods, along leafy 
country roads. Not that I was entirely free to go 
where I liked. I could not safely go to Tsarskoe Selo, 
even to my own house, which after my arrest had been 
taken over by the police,, and not only ransacked for 
evidence against me, but looted of every valuable. It 
was my faithful old servant Berchik who gave me the 
details of the search. He, honest soul, who had been 
forty-five years in the service of my family, was offered 
ten thousand rubles if he would testify against the Em- 
press and myself. On his indignant refusal the police 
arrested him, while they tore up the carpets and even' 
the floors of my rooms, demanding of Berchik the 
whereabouts of secret passages to the palace, the 
private telegraph and telephone wires to Berlin, my 
hidden writing desks, and all sorts of nonsense. Espe- 
cially were they anxious to discover my wine cellar, and 
when they found that I possessed none they were angry 
indeed. They took possession of all the letters and 
papers they could find, and at the end of the search 
ordered my cook to prepare them an elaborate supper. 
Then they left taking with them the silverware. 

If I could not visit Tsarskoe and those whom I loved 
and longed to see, I could at least, and I did, hear from 
the Empress. Just before the family were sent to 
their exile one of the maids smuggled out a letter which 
reached me safely and which I quote here, suppressing 
only the most intimate and affectionate passages. 

"I cannot write much," the letter began, "my heart is too 
full. I love you, we love you, thank you, bless you, kiss the 
wound on your forehead. ... I cannot find words. ... I 
know what vi^ill be your anguish with this great distance be- 


tween us. They do not tell us where we go (we shall learn 
only on the train), nor for how long, but we think it is where 
you were last" (Tobolsk), "Beloved, the misery of leaving! 
Everything packed up, empty rooms, such pain, the home of 
twenty-three years. Yet you have suffered far more. Fare- 
well. Somehow let me know you received this. We prayed 
long before the Virgin of Znomenia, and I remembered the 
last time it was on your bed. My heart and soul are torn to 
go so far from home and from you. To be for months without 
news is terrible. But God is merciful. He won't forsake you, 
and will bring us together again in sunny times. I fully be- 
leve It. 

With the letter the Empress sent me a box of my 
jewels which she had carefully guarded, and I heard a 
fairly full account of how the summer had been spent. 
For a time she and the Emperor had been kept apart, 
being allowed to speak to each other only at table and 
in the presence of guards. Revolutionary agents tried 
every possible means of incriminating the Empress, 
whom they hated even more than the Emperor, but 
finally failing in their efforts they allowed the family 
to be together once more. The day after they were 
sent to Siberia the maid visited me again with the storyi 
of their departure. Kerensky personally arranged 
every detail, and intruded his presence for hours to- 
gether on the unhappy family. Under his orders 
everything was made ready for a midnight journey but 
actually they did not leave the palace until six o'clock 
in the morning. All night the prisoners sat in their 
traveling clothes and wraps in the round hall of the 
palace. At five a courageous servant brought them 
fresh tea, which gave them a little comfort, especially 


Alexei, who stood the night badly. They drove away 
from the palace with perfect serenity as if going on a 
holiday to Finland or the Crimea. Even the Revolu- 
tionary newspapers, with grudging admiration, had to 
admit this. 

A day or two later Mr. Gibbs, Alexei's English 
tutor, came to see me, and he told me that although he 
was not permitted to accompany the Imperial Family 
with the other tutors, M. Gilliard and M. Petroff, he 
intended to follow them to Tobolsk. He took a 
photograph of me for the Empress, who was anxious 
to see for herself if the long imprisonment had im- 
paired my health. As a matter of fact I was not very 
well just then, as I had something very like jaundice, so 
I am afraid my photograph was none too reassuring. 
At this time I was staying in the home of my sister's 
husband who was attached to the British Military 
Commission in Petrograd. It was a cool and comfort- 
able apartment, and I should have been contented to 
stay on indefinitely. But one day my brother-in-law, 
in deep embarrassment, showed me a letter from his 
sister, who was expected on a visit. This lady ex- 
pressed herself unwilling to live under the same roof 
with a person as notorious as myself, and I, equally 
unwilling to associate with her, moved back to my 
uncle's hospitable home. But even there I found no 
serenity. I had been acquitted of all the crimes 
charged against me by the Provisional Government, ^ 
but now the Government of Kerensky found new ac- 
cusations to make of me. This time I was a counter- 
Revolutionist, and as papers served on me in the 

*See Appendix B. 


middle of the night of August 24 (Russian) ordered, 
I had to leave for an unknown destination withiit 
twenty-four hours. As I was without money and was 
really in need of a physician's care, my relatives began 
at once to petition every authority for a delay of at 
least twenty-four hours more. This was finally al- 
lowed, but two soldiers were immediately placed before 
my door and I was a prisoner in my uncle's apartment. 
Meanwhile my parents and friends continued to make 
every preparation for my comfort in exile, and two of 
my hospital staff, the director and a nurse, volunteered 
to go with me. The night before I left my poor 
parents stayed with me, none of us going to bed. Very 
early on a rainy morning two motor cars filled with 
police came for us. They were kind enough to let my 
parents accompany me almost to the Finnish side, and 
they explained that they had come so early because 
they feared street demonstrations. 

At the station we found a miscellaneous company of 
alleged counter-Revolutionists including a few old ac- 
quaintances. Among these was former detective 
Manouiloff, a tall officer named Groten, the editor, 
Tanchevsky, and the curious little Siberian doctor 
Badmieff, with his equally curious wife and child and a 
young maid named Erika whom I came to know very 
well. Badmieff was the herb doctor who, it will be 
remembered, was supposed to purvey the deadly 
poisons which I was alleged to feed to the Tsarevitch. 
He was a small, round, shriveled man, excessively old — 
over a hundred, they said — and in appearance re- 
sembled a quaint carved Buddha out of an antiquarian 
shop. He had the smallest, blackest eyes imaginable, 


set in a face yellow and wrinkled, and his long, scraggly 
beard was as white as cotton. His wife, many years 
his junior, and his funny little child, Aida, were as 
Mongolian in appearance as himself. The maid, 
Erika, a girl of about eighteen, was not uncomely with 
her bright eyes and short, curly hair. All the "coun- 
ter-Revolutionists" were herded together in one car- 
riage, the one farthest from the engine, and in charge 
of us was a Jewish official of the Kerensky Govern- 
ment. At Terioke I parted with my father and 
mother, the train moving on quickly to the Finnish 
town of Belieovstrov. Here we were met by an 
enormous crowd of soldiers and working people, all 
hostile, demanding to see the dangerous counter-Revo- 
lutionists. Especially they demanded to see me, but 
I shrank back in my seat, fearing every moment that 
the shower of stones against the carriage would break 
the windows. But quickly the conductor's whistle was 
blown and the train moved beyond the reach of the 

Worse was to come. When we reached Rikimeaki 
we found waiting us a larger and a still more furious 
crowd. Our carriage was unfastened from the train 
and the mob rushed in yelling that we must all be given 
up and killed. "Give us the Grand Dukes!" they 
shouted. "Give us Gourko!" I sat with my face 
buried in the shoulder of my nursing sister fearing that 
my end had come. My fears were not imaginary, for 
several ruffians pitched on me shouting that they had 
found Gourko in women's clothes. Frantically the 
sister explained that I was not General Gourko but 
only a woman ill and lame. Refusing to believe her, 


they demanded that I be stripped, and I have no doubt 
that this would have happened had not a motor car 
opportunely dashed up carrying a sailor deputation 
from the Helsingfors Soviet. These men pushed their 
way into the carriage, and without ceremony booted 
the invaders out. One man, a tall, slender youth 
named Antonoff, made a speech at the top of his voice, 
commanding the mob to disperse and to leave things 
in the hands of the Soviet. So authoritatively did he 
speak that the crowd obeyed him and allowed our car- 
riage to be attached to another train bound for Hel- 
singfors. Antonoff remained with us, and in the 
friendliest fashion sat down beside me and bade me to 
be of good cheer. He did not know why we had been 
sent away from Petrograd, but the Soviet at Helsing- 
fors, of which he was a member, had received a tele- 
gram, he thought directly from Kerensky, saying that 
we were being sent on, and when we arrived were to be 
placed under arrest. Doubtless there would be ex- 
planations, and after that we would surely be released. 
To my mind the thing seemed not quite so simple. 
Kerensky had sent us from Petrograd, but not to be 
imprisoned in Helsingfors. What he desired was that 
the mobs, notified of our arrival from his office, would 
kill us before we ever reached Helsingfors at all. No 
doubt he hoped at the same time to dispose of General 
Gourko and the Grand Dukes left in Petrograd. But 
Gourko was too clever for Kerensky, and made good 
his escape to Archangel, where he took refuge with the 
British Occupational Force. As for the Grand Dukes, 
they were, for some reason, at this time left undisturbed 
by the Revolutionists. 


It was night when we reached Helsingfors and we 
found the station practically deserted. The main 
body of the prisoners were taken away into the dark- 
ness, but Antonoff said that I and the nurse should 
spend the night in a hospital adjoining the station. 
We climbed several flights of steep stairs and passed 
through wards crowded with blue-gowned sick soldiers 
and sailors, not one of whom offered us the slightest 
rudeness. A skilled Finnish nurse undressed me and 
put me to bed, but unhappily not for long. Scarcely 
had I composed myself to sleep when the door opened, 
the lights flashed up, and Antonoff, red and very angry, 
entered the room. He had gone to the Soviet authori- 
ties, confident that he could persuade them to let me 
remain in the hospital, at least until word came from 
Petrograd of our exact status. But they refused his 
request and ordered him to take me at once to the ship 
on which the other prisoners were confined. There 
being no appeal I dressed and limped down the long 
stairs to the street where a dense mob had assembled, 
shouting, threatening, crowding dangerously around 
the motor car. It is a horrible thing to hear a mob 
shrieking for one's blood. One feels like a cornered 
hare in the face of yelping hounds. With the strength 
of desperation I clung to the arm of Antonoff, who for 
all I knew might yield suddenly and throw me to the 
crowd. Unworthy thought, for the man held me 
firmly, all the time demanding that the people give 
room and let us reach the car. When they saw me in 
the car their fury seemed to redouble. "Daughter of 
the Romanoffs," they yelled, "how dare she ride in a 
motor car? Let her get out and walk." Standing 


up in the car Antonoff repeated his commands that the 
mob disperse, and slowly at first and then more rapidly 
we got away. We reached the distant water front, 
and I was taken from the car to a ship. Picture my 
astonishment when I found myself standing on the 
deck of the Polar Star, the light and beautiful yacht on 
which I had so often sailed in Finnish waters with the 
Imperial Family. With all the Imperial property the 
Polar Star had been confiscated by the Provisional Gov- 
ernment, and it was but another sign of the changing 
times that the yacht had later been taken away from 
the Provisional Government and was now the property 
of the Soviets, being the Zentrobalt, or headquarters 
of the Baltic fleet. 

From the deck I was hurried past the open door of 
the main dining salon, once a place of ceremony and 
good living, now a dingy, disordered apartment where 
crowds of illiterate workmen gathered to dispose of 
the rest of Russia's ruined fleet and the future of our 
unhappy country.^ At least a hundred of these men 
were in the salon when I passed it first, and during the 
five days I spent on the yacht their voices seemed to go 
on In endless orations, ceaseless wrangling, twenty-four 
hours at a stretch. It was like nothing I can describe, 
like an ill-disciplined lunatic asylum. I was herded 
with the other "counter-Revolutionists" far below 
decks in what I conjectured had been the stokers' quar- 
ters. The stifling little cabins were filthy, like all the 
rest of the yacht, and they simply swarmed with ver- 
min. It was so dark that night and day the electric 
lights burned, and I was thankful for that because 

'Finland had not then separated from the old Russian Empire. 


somehow the bright light seemed to be a kind of pro- 
tection against the swarm of grimacing, obscene sailors 
who infested the place, amusing themselves with dis- 
cussions as to when and how we were likely to be killed. 
During the whole of the first night Antonoff stood 
guard over us and warned the sailors that no murder 
could be done without authority from the Soviet. 
Over and over again they suggested that he leave the 
place, but he always replied firmly that he was re- 
sponsible for the prisoners and could not go. Finally 
towards morning the sailors left, and afterwards we 
learned that their blood lust towards us was not merely 
simulated. They had gone directly from the yacht to 
the Petropavlovsk, the flagship of the fleet, and had 
killed every one of the old officers left on board. 

Antonoff left us early in the morning, left us expect- 
ing to return, but he never did return nor did we ever 
see or hear of him again. Such sudden disappearances 
were common enough even in those early days of the 
Russian Revolution, before murder became the fine art 
into which it has since developed. Five days we re- 
mained on the Polar Star, very miserable in our 
vermin-infested quarters below decks, but mercifully 
allowed part of each day in the open air. They might 
have allowed us longer time on deck had it not been for 
the hostile crowds that constantly thronged the quays. 
My time was spent in the shelter of the deckhouse near 
the main salon, a spot where in the old days the Em- 
press and I loved to sit with our books and work. 
Here five years before, when the Empress Dowager 
visited the yacht, I had taken a photograph of her with 
her arm around the shoulders of the Emperor, both 


smiling and happy in the sparkling light of the fjord. 
Every corner of the yacht had been exquisitely clean 
and white in those days. Dirty as the yacht's present 
crew appeared, I cannot say they starved their 
prisoners or were cruel to them. We had soup, meat, 
bread, and tea, luxurious fare compared to Peter and 
Paul. Our worst condition was suspense of mind as 
to our ultimate fate. At every change of guard we 
begged news from Petrograd, but always we received 
the same answer. The Kerensky Government gave no 
reason or justification for our arrest. Two of the 
sailors were especially friendly to me because, as they 
explained, they came from Rojdestino, our family 
estate near Moscow. "If we had known that you 
were going to be brought here," they said, "we might 
have done something. But now it is too late." That 
night I found in my cabin a tiny note, ill-spelled and 
badly written, warning me that all of us were about to 
be transferred to the Fortress of Sveaborg in the Bay 
of Helsingfors. "We are so sorry," the note con- 
cluded. Although it was unsigned, I knew the note 
must have been sent in kindness by one of the men from 
my old home. But at the prospect of another im- 
prisonment my heart turned sick with dread. 

Next evening came Ostrovsky, head of the Helsing- 
fors Okhrana, accompanied by several members of the 
main committee of the Soviet. Ostrovsky was a very 
young man, scarcely eighteen I should judge, but he 
had fierce eyes and all the assurance of a born leader. 
Turning to my nurse, to Mme. Badmieff, Erika the 
maid, and her little Mongolian charge Aida, he said 
roughly that they were free but that all the rest would 


be taken at once to the fortress. In a sudden panic of 
alarm I threw myself into the arms of my nursing sister 
and begged her to accompany me. But she too was 
fear-stricken and drew back while all the men laughed 
heartlessly. "What's the difference?" asked Ostrov- 
sky brutally. "You're all going to be shot anyhow." 
At which the dauntless Erika, putting Aida into her 
mother's arms, came over to me and tucking her hand 
under my arms said: "I'm not afraid. I'm going 
wherever the doctor goes and I'll stand by you both." 
I gave the trembling nurse a small box containing all 
the trinkets I had brought with me, gave her messages 
to my father and mother, and followed my fellow un- 
fortunates to the deck, down a slippery gangplank to 
waiting motor boats on which we traveled the half 
hour's journey from the yacht to the fortress. 


SVEABORG before the War was one of three prin- 
cipal naval stations of the Russian Empire, the 
other two being Kronstadt and Reval, Sveaborg oc- 
cupies a number of small islands in the Bay of Helsing- 
fors. The bay itself, shaped like a rather narrow half 
moon, is so enclosed by these wooded islands that in 
winter the salt water freezes solidly. In summer the 
islands are green and lovely and a few of them, not 
under military control, are used by the Finns as pleas- 
ure resorts. Even in the darkness and in the unfortui- 
tous circumstances of our arrival I could see that the 
main island might be a very attractive place. Up a 
steep hill we panted, past a white church surrounded 
with trees, and at last reached the place of our confine- 
ment, a long, dingy, one-storied stronghold. A young 
officer and several very dirty soldiers took our records, 
and Erika and I were pushed into a small cell with two 
wooden bunks covered with dust and alas, nothing else. 
The place smelled as only old prisons do smell, and 
the only air came in through a small window high in 
one of the walls. Wrapping ourselves in our coats, we 
lay down on the hard planks and tried to sleep. In 
the early dawn we got up, our backs aching and our 
throats choked with dust, but the Irrepressible Erika 
laughed so heartily and sneezed so comically that I 

found it impossible to lament our surroundings. The 



place was a dreadful hole just the same, no proper 
toilet facilities at hand, and of course no opportunity 
of washing, to say nothing of bathing. We had to pay 
for our food at the rate of about ten rubles a day, at 
that time no small amount of money. The food was 
not very bad except that Stepan, the commissary, used 
to wipe our plates with a disgustingly dirty towel which 
he wore around his neck, the same towel being used in a 
laudable attempt to wipe the dust from our bunks. 

Climbing on the bunks, we had a view through the 
window of a new building going up, the workmen being 
women as well as men. At the same time we got a 
glimpse of the detective Manoulloff who, ever pessimis- 
tic, held up three fingers as an expression of his belief 
that we had only that many days to live. We, how- 
ever, ventured the guess that we would not remain at 
Sveaborg more than a month. It was a mere hazard 
but it turned out a fortunate one. We remained just 
about a month. It was a queer life we lived during 
that month, surrounded by tipsy and irresponsible men 
whose officers seemed to fear them too much to insist 
upon discipline. The officers, especially one fine young 
man, did everything they dared to make us comfort- 
able. After the first ten days our plank beds were 
furnished with green leather cushions which might have 
made sleep a comfort if they had not persisted in slip- 
ping from under us about as soon as we dozed off. 
Somewhat later, a week perhaps before our liberation, 
these cushions were replaced by real mattresses stuffed 
with seaweed, wonderfully luxurious by comparison 
with the bare boards. The prisoners were exercised 
every day in the open under Sveaborg guards and the 


gaze of a crowd of Finnish Bolshevists. These people 
seemed at first immensely div^erted by the pomposity of 
the Siberian doctor Badmieff who, in his long white 
robe, tall cap, and white gloves was certainly a curious 
spectacle. Soon they tired of him and turned their 
stolid, expressionless eyes on the other prisoners with 
what intentions we could only conjecture. Badmieff 
continued to be a center of interest in the prison. Erika, 
his faithful disciple, demanded the privilege of attend- 
ing him, and this was granted. Every day he sat 
cross-legged like the Buddha he so much resembled, 
dictating endless medical treatises to Erika. In the 
evenings he used to put his lamp on the floor at the 
foot of his bunk, strew around it flowers and leaves 
brought from outside, burn some kind of ill-smelling 
herbs for incense, and generally create what I assumed 
to be the occult atmosphere of his beloved Thibet. 
Erika, scantily clad, always attended these seances and 
gradually they appeared to hypnotize the sailors, who 
thought highly of the doctor's professional powers. 
Indeed towards the end I often heard them swearing 
that whoever left the fortress, they would at least keep 
their highly esteemed tovarish Badmieff and his 
Siberian-Thibetan lore. 

In sad contrast to the condition of Dr. Badmieff was 
that of the poor editor. Glinka Janchevsky, who being 
without money was treated with the utmost contempt. 
Housed in a wretched cell covered with obscene draw- 
ings, the miserable man spent most of his time lying on 
his wooden bed wrapped up, head and all, in his over- 
coat. He used to creep to our cell door with a glass 
of hot water in his hand begging for a pinch of tea and, 


if we had it, a little sugar. Every day he used to ask 
pathetically: "When do you think we shall be let 
go?" Like all journalists, he was famished for news, 
and whenever I got hold of a stray newspaper I used to 
read it to him from the first column to the last. 

The vacillating conduct of the Bolshevist sailors to- 
ward the prisoners of Kerensky I can only ascribe to 
the increasingly bitter conflict going on between the 
weak Provisional Government and the Bolsheviki. 
The sailors hated us because we were "bourgeois," but 
they spared us because Kerensky desired our destruc- 
tion. The officers good-naturedly brought me flowers 
from outside, an occasional newspaper, and even letters 
from people in Helsingfors who knew my history and 
pitied my fate. Sometimes I was even invited to tea 
with the officers, and twice I was taken out of prison, 
ostensibly for examination, but really to attend services 
at the little white church on the island. The guards 
were rough and kind by turns, sometimes uttering hor- 
rible threats against all the prisoners, sometimes bring- 
ing me a handful of the wild flowers they knew I loved 
to have near me. Discipline was lax, and we never 
knew from one day to another what might befall. For 
example, the padlock to my cell got lost and for several 
nights the door was left unlocked. One can imagine 
how I slept ! On one of these unguarded nights the 
cell was invaded by a group of drunken and lustful 
men. Erika and I fought them, screaming at the top 
of our lungs, until a few sober and better-minded 
sailors came to the rescue. A day or two later, when 
a rumor spread that we were all to be hanged, I among 
the first, I for one felt less terror than relief. Any- 


thing, even hanging, seemed better than this lunatic 
prison where the guards drank, played cards, and 
wrangled all night, and where the men's attitude to- 
wards Erika and myself, the only women, was by turns 
dangerously savage and dangerously friendly. 

Besides the Kerensky prisoners the fortress sheltered 
eight or nine prisoners charged with crimes ranging 
from theft to murder. Some of these whom we en- 
countered in the exercise yard looked like very decent 
men, shining perhaps by contrast with the rowdy Revo- 
lutionists I had seen in the course of two imprison- 
ments. For these unfortunates and for the guards 
we bought cigarettes, thus establishing more cordial 
relations. Nobody knew or could guess what was 
going to happen to us. One day appeared the presi- 
dent of the Helsingfors Soviet, a black-eyed Jew named 
Sheiman, who assured us that we were to be sent back 
to Petrograd, and that we might as well have our 
things ready by nine o'clock that night. Nothing hap- 
pened that night, nor did we, for some reason, expect 
anything. The next day Sheiman came again with his 
bodyguard of soldiers and sailors, and told us that his 
Soviet refused for a time to release us. It appeared 
that telegrams had arrived from Kerensky and from 
Cheidze, the Georgian leader in the Petrograd Soviet, 
urgently demanding our return. The Helsingfors 
Soviet might have obliged Cheidze, but they would not 
honor any demand of Kerensky's, so there we were. 
The Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet 
sent over several deputies, Kaplan, a small, black- 
bearded man, who smilingly told us that there was no 
possible hope for us; Sokoloff, the famous, or rather 


Infamous, author in the first instance of Order No. i 
which was principally responsible for the break-up of 
the army; and Joffe, the little Jew, who, a few years 
later, became influential enough to be included among 
the delegates to the Genoa Conference. After their 
visit, I don't know why, prison discipline became still 
further relaxed. We had visitors and the attention of 
physicians if we needed it. We were informed that 
henceforth we would not be regarded as prisoners at 
all, but only as persons temporarily detained. Two 
hours a day after this we were allowed in the open 
air, and I became very friendly with the Finnish women 
carpenters at work on the new building on our island. 
These good souls brought me bottles of delicious milk, 
and one day the building foreman, a Moscow Russian, 
invited me to his house to tea, and here I, a poor pris- 
oner, was treated with such deference that I was 
actually embarrassed. Not one of the family would 
eat with me or even sit down in my presence. 

At this time Erika and I were given a more com- 
modious cell furnished with the seaweed mattresses 
of which I have spoken. But to our horror we found 
the walls covered with the most frightful scrawls and 
pictures. The sailor guards, however, brought water 
and sponges and with many apologies washed off the 
disgusting records as well as they could. I was thank- 
ful for this a few days later when all unexpectedly I 
received a visit from my dear mother. It had been 
some days after our parting at the frontier before she 
and my father learned that I was in prison. Imme- 
diately they had gone to Helsingfors to appeal to Gen- 
eral Stachovitch, the Governor of Finland. But he 


advised them to avoid trouble for themselves, perhaps 
for me also, by going quietly back to Petrograd. My 
parents gave him money for me, which I never re- 
ceived, and despite the Governor's advice they stayed 
on in Helsingfors in faint hope of seeing me. Dr. 
Manouchine, my mother told me, had returned from a 
long visit in the Caucasus and was doing what he could 
to get me released. My mother also gave me news of 
the last struggle to maintain the army, the conflict be- 
tween Korniloff and Kerensky, ending, as everyone 
knows, in the death of Korniloff. These two were 
about equally hated by the Sveaborg sailors who would 
gladly have murdered them both. They had begun to 
speak with unbounded admiration of Lenine and 
Trotzky, especially of Lenine, who they declared was 
the coming saviour of Russia. 

Bolshevism was in the air, and for a moment it as- 
sumed a really benevolent aspect. I remember a depu- 
tation of Kronstadt Bolshevists who came to Sveaborg 
to inspect us and to review our entire case. Some of 
these men were very civil to me, asking many questions 
about the Imperial Family and the life of the Court. 
At parting one said to me naively; "You are quite 
different from what I thought you'd be, and I shall tell 
the comrades so." The very next day another deputa- 
tion came and, characteristic of the confused state of 
the public mind, these men were as brutal as the others 
had been kind. They stormed down the prison corri- 
dors roaring: "Where is Viroubova? Show us 
Viroubova !" I cowered in my cell, but when the 
guard came and admonished me, for my own safety, to 
show myself to the men I gathered courage to speak to 


them. Totally unprepared to see the terrible Virou- 
bova merely a crippled woman in a shabby frock, the 
men suddenly quieted down and made civil response to 
my words. "We didn't know that you were ill," said 
one of the men as they prepared to move on. 

Although we did not know it at the time, our fate 
really hung on the outcome of a Congress of Soviets 
which was then being held in Petrograd, and to which 
both Sheiman and Ostrovsky were delegates. Shei- 
man returned to Helsingfors and visiting my cell told 
me that both Trotzky and Lounacharsky were insistent 
on the release of Kerensky's prisoners. That evening, 
he said, would be held a secret session of the executives 
of the Helsingfors Soviet at which he would urge the 
recommendation of Trotzky and Lounacharsky. If 
the executives agreed the question would then be re- 
ferred to the entire Soviet, made up principally of 
sailors of the old Baltic fleet. That evening I was 
invited to tea in the officers' quarters, and while sitting 
there the telephone rang. "It is for you," said the 
officer who answered the call. I picked up the receiver 
and heard Sheiman's voice saying briefly: "The execu- 
tive has voted unanimously for the release of the 

There was little sleep for me that night, but tired as 
I was by morning, I greeted happily the unkempt cook 
and his messy breakfast plate. All day I waited with 
the dumb patience only prisoners know, and at early 
evening I was rewarded by the appearance of Sheiman 
and Ostrovsky. "Put on your coat and follow me," 
said Sheiman. "I have resolved to take you, on my 

own responsibility, to the hospital." To my nursing 
sister, who had spent the afternoon with me, he gave 
orders to go to Helsingfors and wait for further direc- 
tions. At the prison gate Sheiman signed the neces- 
sary papers, and hurrying me past two gaping 
Bolshevist soldiers, he led the way down a bypath to 
the water. Boarding a small motor launch manned by 
a single sailor, we started off at high speed for Helsing- 
fors. There was one bad moment when we approached 
a low bridge occupied by a strong guard, but at Shei- 
man's directions, uttered in a short whisper, I lay down 
flat in the launch and we passed unchallenged. The 
first stars were shining in the clear autumn sky as we 
reached the military quay of the town. We ran in 
under the lee of a huge warship and stepped ashore. 
There was a motor car waiting and the chauffeur, who 
evidently knew his business, started his engine without 
a word or even a turn of his head. 

Sheiman spoke only one sentence. "Tovarish 
Nicholai, drive to — " naming a street and number. 
At once we were off, my head fairly swimming at the 
sight of electric lights, shaded streets, and people walk- 
ing up and down. Turning into a quiet street we left 
the car, all three of us shaking hands with the discreet 
driver. Bidding Ostrovsky find my nurse and my 
small luggage, Sheiman conducted me to the door of 
the hospital where a nice clean Finnish nurse took me 
in charge and put me to bed in one of the freshest, 
airiest, most comfortable rooms I have ever occupied. 
"Take good care of this lady," were the last words of 
the President of the Helsingfors Soviet, "and let no 


one intrude on her." His words and tlie assured smile 
of the nurse were good soporifics and I fell almost in- 
stantly into a deep sleep. 

Two days later, September 30 (Russian), Sheiman 
came to see me with the news that Trotzky had ordered 
all the Kerensky prisoners back to Petrograd, and that 
he, Sheiman, had personally seen to it that my nurse 
and my aunt, who was at that time in Helsingfors, were 
to accompany me. Sheiman himself, and also Ostrov- 
sky, who was unfortunately very drunk, went with us 
in the train which left Helsingfors that same night 
about half past ten. It was an unpleasant journey, the 
prisoners being in a state of wild excitement, and many 
of the red-badged officers more or less tipsy. With 
my aunt and the nurse I sat in a corner of a dirty com- 
partment praying for the day to come. At nine in the 
morning we reached Petrograd, and Sheiman, still so- 
licitous of my welfare, escorted the three of us to the 
Smolny Institute, once an aristocratic school for girls, 
now the headquarters of the Petrograd Soviet. Here 
I had the happiness once more to embrace my mother, 
who, with relatives of other prisoners, waited our 
arrival. Many Soviet authorities were in the place, 
among others Kameneff, a small red-bearded man, and 
his wife, a sister of the renowned Trotzky. Both of 
the Kameneffs were extremely kind to us, seeing that 
my companions and I had tea and food, and expressing 
the hope that I should soon be out of trouble. 
Kameneff telephoned Kerensky's headquarters asking 
leave to send us home, but as it was a holiday nobody 
answered the call. "Well, go home anyhow," said 
Kameneff, leaving the telephone, but Sokolov stopped 


us long enough to make us understand that the pris- 
oners all had to appear the next day before the High 
Commission in the Winter Palace. I never saw the 
Kameneffs agam even to thank them for their kindness, 
but I read in the Kerensky newspapers that I was on 
terms of intimacy with them and was therefore a Bol- 
shevist. It was even stated that I was a close friend 
of the afterwards notorious woman commissar Kolan- 
tai, whom I have never seen, and that Trotzky was a 
familiar visitor in my house. 

Thus ended my second term of imprisonment. First 
I was arrested as a German spy and intrigant, next as a 
counter-Revolutionary. Now I was accused of being 
a Bolshevist and the name of Trotzky instead of Ras- 
putine was linked with mine. Hardly knowing what 
next was in store for me, I reported at once to the High 
Commission. Here I was told that their inquiries con- 
cerning me were finished, and that I had better see the 
Minister of the Interior. At this ministry I was in- 
formed that I was in no immediate danger but that I 
would remain under police surveillance. I asked why, 
but got no satisfactory answer. Later I learned that 
the tottering Provisional Government wanted to send 
me and all the "counter-Revolutionists" to Archangel, 
but this move Dr. Manouchine, who was still very 
influential, was determined to prevent. 

From my uncle's house, where I had first taken 
refuge, I moved to a discreet lodging in the heart of the 
city and from this place I never once in daylight ven- 
tured out. This was in late October, 19 17, and the 
Bolshevist revolution had begun in deadly earnest. 
Day after day I sat listening to the sound of rifle shots 


and the putter of machine guns, the pounding of 
armored cars over the stone pavements, and the tramp, 
tramp, tramp of soldiers. Russia was getting ready 
for the long promised constitutional convention which 
turned out to be a Communist coup d'etat. Once in a 
while the husband of my landlady, a naval man, came 
to my lodgings, and it was he who gave me news of the 
arrest of the Provisional Government, the siege of the 
Winter Palace, and the ignominious collapse of Keren- 
sky while women soldiers fought and died to hide his 
flight ! The scenes in the streets, as they were de- 
scribed to me, were appalling, and soon it was decided 
that my retreat was too near the center of hostilities to 
be at all safe. About the end of October I was taken 
by night to a distant quarter of the town to the tiny 
apartment of an old woman, formerly a masseuse in 
my hospital. Here came our old servant Berchik, 
keen to protect me from danger, and here we stayed 
for a month, when my mother found me a still safer 
lodging on the sixth floor of a house in the Fourtch- 
katskaia, a cozy little apartment whose windows gave 
a pleasant view of roofs and church steeples. There 
for eight months I lived like a recluse, once in a great 
while venturing to go to church, well guarded by 
Berchik and the nurse. The Bolshevik Government 
seemed successfully established, and its policy of blood 
and terror and extermination was well under way. Yet 
in my hidden retreat it seemed to me that, for a time 
at least, I was forgotten, and my troubles were all over. 


PARADOXICAL though it may appear, the last 
months of 1917 and the winter of 1918, spent in a 
hidden lodging in turbulent Petrograd, were more 
peaceful than any period I had known since the Revo- 
lution began. I knew that the city and the country were 
in the hands of fanatic Bolshevists and that under their 
ruthless theory of government no human life was at all 
secure. Food and fuel were scarce and dear, and there 
was no doubt that things were destined to grow worse 
long before they could, in any imaginable circum- 
stances, grow better. The wreck of the army was 
complete, and while the war still waged in western 
Europe we, who had had so much to do with defiance of 
German militarism, were completely out of the final 
struggle. The peace of my soul was partly born of 
ignorance, I suppose, the ignorance of events shared by 
everyone not immediately in contact with the world 
catastrophe. I was free, I lived in a comfortable 
apartm.ent, my dear father and mother came daily to 
see me, and two of my faithful old servants lived with 
me and were ready to protect me from all enemies. 

Also, because the mind cannot fully realize the 
worst, I believed that the Russian chaos was a tem- 
porary manifestation. I thought I saw signs of a re- 
action in favor of the exiled Emperor. In this I was 
certainly encouraged by two of the oldest and most 

prominent Revolutionists known to the outside world, 



Bourtseff, a leader among the old Social Revolution- 
aries, and the novelist Gorky. It was in December, 
19 1 7, if I remember correctly, that I learned that 
Gorky was anxious to meet me, and as I preferred to 
keep my small corner of safety as free from visitors as 
possible, I made an appointment with the novelist in 
his own home, a modest apartment on the Petrograd 
side of the Neva, not far from the fortress. Gorky, 
whose gaunt feautures are familiar to all readers, is 
said to be a sufferer from tuberculosis, but as he has 
lived many years since the first rumors of this disease 
were circulated, there may be some reason to doubt 
his affliction. That he is a sick man none can doubt, 
for his high cheek bones seem almost to pierce his 
colorless skin and his darkly luminous eyes are deeply 
sunken in his head. For two hours of this first inter- 
view I sat in conversation with Gorky, strange crea- 
ture, who at times seems to be heart and soul a Bol- 
shevist and at other times openly expresses his loath- 
ing and disgust of their insane and destructive policies. 
To me Gorky was gentle and sympathetic, and what he 
said about the Emperor and Empress filled my heart 
with encouragement and hope. They were, he de- 
clared, the poor scapegoats of the Revolution, martyrs 
to the fanaticism of the time. He had examined with 
care the private apartments of the palace and he saw 
clearly that these unhappy ones were not even what 
are called aristocrats, but merely a bourgeois family 
devoted to each other and to their children, as well as 
to their ideals of righteous living. He expressed him- 
self as bitterly disappointed in the Revolution and in 
the character of the Russian proletariat. Earnestly he 


advised me to live as quietly as possible, never re- 
minding the Bolshevist authorities or any strangers of 
my existence. My duty, he told me, was to live and 
to devote myself to writing the true story of the lives 
of the Emperor and Empress. "You owe this to 
Russia," he said, "for what you can write may help to 
bring peace between the Emperor and the people." 

Twice afterwards I saw and talked with Gorky, 
showing him a few pages of my reminiscences. He 
urged me to go on writing, suppressing nothing of the 
truth, and he even offered to help me with my work. 
But writing in Russia was at that time too dangerous 
a trade to be followed with any degree of confidence, 
and it was not until I was safely beyond the frontiers 
that I dared begin writing freely and at length. I 
wish to say, however, that It was principally due to 
Gorky's encouragement and to the encouragement of 
an American literary friend, Rheta Childe Dorr, that I 
ventured to attempt authorship, or rather that I under- 
took to present to the world, as they really were, my 
Sovereigns and my best beloved friends. My casual 
acquaintanceship with Gorky was naturally seized upon 
by certain foreign journalists as evidence that I had 
gone over to the Bolsheviki, and much abuse and scorn 
were hurled against "?e. How little those writers knew 
of Gorky and his half-hearted support of the Lenine 
policies ! He held an important office under the Com- 
munists, it is true, and his wife, a former actress, was 
in the commissariat of theatricals and entertainments. 
But no man in Bolshevist Russia has ever been per- 
mitted more freedom of thought and speech than 
Gorky. He has done things which would have brought 


almost any other man to torture and death, I know, 
for example, that he sheltered under his roof at least 
one of the Romanoffs, and that the man was finally 
assisted by him across the Finnish frontier. Gorky 
interested himself also in the fate of several of the 
Grand Dukes, Nicholai Michailovitch, Paul and 
George, who were arrested and later shot to death in 
Peter and Paul. Gorky did everything in his power to 
save these men, in whom personally he had no interest 
whatever. He simply believed their murder to be un- 
justified, and it is said that he actually induced Lenine 
to sign an order for their release and deportation, but 
the order was signed too late, and the men were 
brutally executed. 

At Christmas, 19 17, I had a great happiness, noth- 
ing less than letters and a parcel of food from the exiles 
in Tobolsk. There were two parcels in fact, one con- 
taining flour, sugar, macaroni, and sausage, wonderful 
luxuries, and the other a pair of stockings knit by the 
Empress's own hands, a warm scarf, and some pretty 
Christmas cards illuminated in her well-remembered 
style. I made myself a tiny Christmas tree decorated 
with bits of tinsel and holly berries and hung with these 
precious tokens of affection and remembrance. Nor 
was this the only Christmas joy vouchsafed me after a 
year of sorrow and suffering. Under the escort of my 
good old servant Berchik I ventured to attend mass in 
the big church near the Nicholai station, a church built 
to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of 
the Romanoff succession. After the service an old 
monk approached me and invited me to accompany 
him into the refectoire of his monastery. I followed 


him, a little unwillingly, for one never knew what 
might happen. Entering I saw, to my astonishment, 
about two hundred factory women who almost filled the 
bare and lofty room. The old monk introduced me 
to the women, and to my bewilderment their leader 
came forward bowing, and holding in her outstretched 
hands a clean white towel on which reposed a silver 
ikon. It was an image of Our Lady of Unexpected 
Joy, and the kind woman told me that she and her 
fellow workers felt that after all that I had unjustly 
suffered in the fortress I ought to have from those who 
sympathized with me an expression of confidence and 
good-will. She added that were I again in trouble I 
might feel myself free to take refuge in the lodgings 
of any one of them. Overcome with emotion, I could 
utter only a few stammering words of thanks. I 
kissed the good woman heartily, and all who could 
approached and embraced me. Knowing that I longed 
for more tangible expressions of gratitude, the good 
old monk pressed into my hands a number of sacred 
pictures and these I gave away, as long as they lasted, 
to my new friends. No words can tell how deeply I 
felt the kindness of these working women who, out of 
their scanty wages, bought a silver ikon to give to a 
woman of whom they knew nothing except that she 
had, as they believed, been persecuted for others' sake. 
I needed the assurance that in the cruel world 
around me there were those who wished me well, for in 
the first months of the new year came one of the bitter- 
est sorrows of my life, the death of my deeply loved 
and revered father. He died very suddenly, and with- 
out any pain, on January 25, 19 18, leaving the world 


bereft of one of the kindest, most gifted, and sympa- 
thetic men of his generation in Russia. I have 
described my father as a musician and a composer, as 
well as a lifelong friend and functionary of the Imperial 
Family. His years of service as keeper of the privy 
purse might have made him a rich man, but so utterly 
honest was he that he accepted nothing except his 
moderate salary and be died leaving almost nothing, 
nothing but an unfading memory and the deep affection 
of my friends, including scores of poor students wliose 
musical education and advancement he had furthered. 
At his funeral his own compositions were sung by vol- 
unteer choirs of his musician friends, and these fol- 
lowed his coffin in long procession the length of the 
Nevski Prospekt to the cemetery of the Alexandra 
Nevskaia Lavra, a monastic burial place where many 
of our greatest lie in everlasting repose. My mother 
came to live with me in my obscure lodgings, and to- 
gether we faced our desolate future. 

One thing alone lightened the darkness of those 
days. This was a correspondence daringly undertaken 
with my beloved friends in Siberia. Even now, and at 
this distance from Russia I cannot divulge the names of 
those brave and devoted ones who smuggled the letters 
and parcels to and from the house in Tobolsk, and got 
them to me and to the small group of faithful men and 
women in Petrograd. The two chiefly concerned, a 
man and a woman, of course lived in constant peril of 
discovery and death. Yet they gladly risked their lives 
that their Sovereigns might have the happiness of pri- 
vate communication with their friends. At this time 
their Majesties were permitted to write and receive a 


few letters, but every line was read by their jailers, and 
their list of correspondents was rigidly censored. Even 
in the letters smuggled out from Tobolsk the utmost 
precautions had to be observed, and the reader can see 
with what veiled and discreet phrases the sentences 
are couched. 

I give these letters exactly as they were written, sup- 
pressing only certain messages of affection too intimate 
to make public. Most of the letters were written by 
the Empress, but one at least came from the Emperor, 
and a number are from the children. To me these 
letters are infinitely precious, not only as personal mes- 
sages, but as proofs of the dauntless courage and deep 
religious faith of these martyrs of the Russian Revolu- 
tion. Their patriotism and their love of country never 
faltered for a single moment, nor did they ever utter 
a complaint or a reproach against those who had so 
heartlessly betrayed them. It seems to me impossible 
that anyone, reading these letters, intended only for 
my own eyes, can continue to misjudge the lives and the 
characters of Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra 
Feodorovna. What they reveal is their secret selves, 
unknown except to those who knew them best and 
knowing them loved them as they deserved to be loved. 

The first communication to reach me was a brief 
message from the Empress, dated October 14, 19 17, a 
short time after the news of my liberation from the 
fortress reached her in Siberia. 

My darling: We are thinking constantly of you and of 
all the suffering you have had to endure. God help you in 
the future. How are your weak heart and your poor legs? 
We hope to go to Communion as usual if we are to be allowed. 


Lessons have begun again with Mr. Gibbs also. So glad, at 
last. We are all well. It is beautifully sunny. I sit behind 
this wall in the yard and work. Greetings to the doctors, 
the priest, and the nurses in your hospital. I kiss you and 
pray God to keep you. 

A week later the Empress wrote me a long letter in 
which she ventures a few details of life in Tobolsk. 

October 21, 1917. 

My darling: I was inexpressibly glad to get news of you, 
and I kiss you fondly for all your loving thoughts of me. 
There are no real barriers between souls who really under- 
stand each other, but still it is natural for hearts to crave ex- 
pressions of love. I wrote to you on the 14th, and now will 
try to send this to the same address, but I don't know how 
long you will remain. I wonder if you got my letter. I had 
hoped so much that you would see Zina and find comfort in 
her friendship. The expression in the eyes in the photograph 
which was brought me ^ has impressed me deeply, and I wept 
freely as I looked at it. Ah, God! Still He is merciful and 
will never forget His own. Great will be their reward in 
Heaven. The more we suffer here the fairer it will be on 
that other shore where so many dear ones await us. How are 
our Friend's ^ dear children, how well does the boy learn, and 
where do they live? 

Dear little Owl, I kiss you tenderly. You are in all our 
hearts. We pray for you and often talk of you. In God's 
hands lie all things. From this great distance it is a difficult 
thing to help and comfort a loved one who is suffering. We 
hope tomorrow to go to Holy Communion, but neither today 
nor yesterday were we allowed to go to church. We have 

^The snapshot taken of me by Mr. Gibbs soon after I was released 
from the fortress. 
' Rasputine. 


had services at home, last night prayers for the dead, tonight 
confession and evening praj'er. You are ever with us, a kindred 
soul. How many things I long to say and to ask of you. It 
is strange to be in this house and to sleep in the dark bedroom.' 
I have heard nothing from Lili D. for some time. We are 
all well. I have been suffering from neuralgia in the head 
but now Dr. Kostritzky has come to treat me. We have 
spoken often of you. 

They say that life in the Crimea is dreadful now. Still 
Olga A. is happy with her little Tichon whom she is nursing 
herself. They have no servants so she and N. A. look after 
everything. Dobiasgin, we hear, has died of cancer. The 
needlework you sent me was the only token we have received 
from any of our friends. Where is poor Catherine? We 
suffer so for all, and we pray for all of you. That is all we 
can do. The weather is bad these last few days, and I never 
venture out because my heart is not behaving very well. I 
get a great deal of consolation reading the Bible. I often 
read it to the children, and I am sure that you also read it. 
Write soon again. We all kiss and bless you. May God 
sustain and keep you. My heart is full, but words are feeble 


Yours, A. 

The jacket warms and comforts me. I am surrounded by 
your dear presents, the blue dressing gown, red slippers, silver 
tray and spoon, the stick, etc. The ikon I wear. I do not 
remember the people you are living with now. Did you see 
the regimental priest from Peterhof? Ask the prayers of 
O. Hovari for us. God be with you. Love to your parents. 
Madeleine and Anna are still in Petrograd. 

Card from Alexei, November 24, 19 17. 

'This was the house and the room I occupied in my stay in Tobolsk 
on my second visit to Siberia. 


I remember you often and am very sad. I remember your 
little house. We cut wood in the daytime for our baths. The 
days pass very quickly. Greetings to all. 

On the same day the Empress wrote me a short 
letter In English. 

Yesterday I received your letter dated November 6, and 
I thank you for it from my heart. It was such a joy to hear 
from you and to think how merciful is God to have given you 
this compensation. Your life in town must be more than un- 
pleasant, confined in stuffy rooms, steep stairs to climb, no 
lovely walks possible, horrors all around you. Poor child! 
You know that in heart and soul I am near you, sharing all 
your pain and sorrow and praying for you fervently. Every 
day I read in the book you gave me seven years ago, "Day 
by Day," and like it very much. There are lovely passages 
in it. 

The weather is very changeable, frost, sunshine, then dark- 
ness and thawings. Desperately dull for those who enjoy long 
walks and are deprived of them. Lessons continue as usual. 
Mother and daughters work and knit a great deal, making 
Christmas presents. How time flies ! In two weeks more it 
will be eight months since I saw you last. And you, my little 
one, so far away in loneliness and sorrow. But you know 
where to seek consolation and strength, and you know that 
God will never forsake you. His love is over all. 

On the whole we are all well, since I do not count chills 
and colds. Alexei's knee and arm swell from time to time, 
but happily without any pain. My heart has not been behav- 
ing very well. I read much, and live in the past, which is so 
full of rich memories. I have full trust in a brighter future. 
He will never forsake those who love and trust in His infinite 
mercy, and when we least expect it He will send help, and will 
save our unhappy country. Patience, faith and truth. 


How did you like the two little colored cards? I have not 
heard from Lili Dehn for three months. It is hard to be cut 
off from all one's dear friends. I am so glad that your old 
servant and Nastia are with you, but where are the maids, 
Zina and Mainia? So Father Makari has left us. But he is 
really nearer than he was before. 

Our thoughts will be very close together next month. You 
remember our last journey and what followed. After this 
anniversary it seems to me that God will show mercy. Kiss 
Praskovia and the children for me. The maid Liza and the 
girls have not come yet. All of us send tenderest love, bless- 
ings and kisses. God bless you, dearest friend. Keep a brave 

P. S. I should like to send you a little food, some macaroni 
for instance. 

Up to this time, nearly the end of the year 19 17, 
the Imperial Family in exile were treated with a certain 
degree of consideration. They had plenty of food 
and a limited freedom. In the next letter I received 
from the Empress, dated December 8, she speaks with 
gratitude of the fact that some of her favorite books 
were permitted to be retained by her, as a little later 
she overflows with gratitude to one of the Bolshevist 
Commissars who sent her a few familiar pictures and 
trinkets from the old home in Tsarskoe Selo. Little 
by little, however, privileges were taken from the 
family, and their status became that of criminal pris- 
oners. I leave this to be shown in the letters which 
follow. On December 8, 19 17, the Empress wrote 
me, in Russian, a letter which shows how poignantly 
she and the Emperor felt the desperate situation in 


My darling: In thoughts and prayers we are always to- 
gether. Still it is hard not to see each other. My heart is 
so full, there is so much I would like to know, so many thoughts 
I should like to share with you. But we hope the time will 
come when we shall see each other, and all the old friends who 
now are scattered in different parts of the world. 

I am sorry you have had a misunderstanding with one of 
your best friends. That should never happen. This is no 
time to judge one's friends, every one of us being on such an 
unnatural strain. 

We here live far from everybody and life is quiet, but we 
read of all the horrors that are going on. But I shall not speak 
of them. You live in their very center, and that is enough for 
you to bear. Petty troubles surround us. The maids have 
been in Tobolsk four days and yet they are not allowed to 
come to our house, although it was promised that they should. 
How pitiful this everlasting suspicion and fear. I suppose it 
will be the same with Isa.* Nobody is now allowed to approach 
us, but I hope they will soon see how stupid and brutal and 
unfair it is to keep them (the maids) waiting. 

It is very cold — 24 degrees of frost. We shiver in the 
rooms, and there is always a strong draught from the windows. 
Your pretty jacket is so useful. We all have chilblains on 
our fingers. (You remember how you suffered from them in 
your cold little house?) I am writing this while resting be- 
fore dinner. Little Jimmy lies near me while his mistress 
plays the piano. On the 6th Alexei, Marie, and Gilik (M. Gil- 
liard) acted a little play for us. The others are committing 
to memory scenes from French plays. Excellent distraction, 
and good for the memory. The evenings we spend together. 
He reads aloud to us, and I embroider. I am very busy all 
day preparing Christmas presents; painting ribbons for book 
markers, and cards as of old. I also have lessons with the 

'Baroness Buxhoevden, lady in waiting. 


children, as the priest is no longer permitted to come. But 
I like these lessons very much. So many things come back 
to my mind. I am reading with pleasure the works of Arch- 
bishop Wissky. I did not have them formerly. Lately also 
I have read Tichon Zadonsky. In spite of everything I was 
able to bring some of my favorite books with me. Do you 
read the Bible I gave you? Do you know that there is now a 
much more complete edition? I have given one to the chil- 
dren, and I have managed to get a large one for myself. There 
are some beautiful passages in the Proverbs of Solomon. The 
Psalms also give me peace. Dear, we understand each other. 
I thank you for everything, and in memory I live over again 
our happy past. 

One of our former wounded men, Pr. Eristoff, is in hospital 
again. I don't know the reason. If possible give hearty greet- 
ings to him from us all. Give sincere thanks and greetings 
to Madame S. and her husband. God bless and comfort him. 

Where are Serge (Mme. Viroubova's brother) and his wife? 
I received a touching letter from Zina. I know the past is all 
done with, but I thank God for all that we have received, and I 
live in the memory that cannot be taken from me. Still I 
worry often for my dearly loved, far distant, foolish little 
friend. I am glad that you have resumed your maiden name. 
Give greetings to Emma F., the English Red Cross nurse, and 
to your dear parents. 

On the 6th we had service at home, not being allowed to 
go to church on account of some kind of a disturbance. I 
have not been out in the fresh air for four weeks. I can't go 
out in such bitter weather because of my heart. Nevertheless 
church draws me almost irresistibly. 

I showed your photographs to Valia and Gilik. I did not 
want to show them to the ladies, your face is too dear and 
precious to me. Nastinka is too distant. She is very sweet, 
but she does not seem near to me. All my dear ones are far 


away. But I am surrounded by their photographs and gifts — 
jackets, dressing gowns, slippers, silver dish, spoons, and ikons. 
How I would like to send you something, but I fear it would 
get lost. I kiss you tenderly, love, and bless you. We all kiss 
you. He was touched by your letter of congratulation. We 
pray for you, and we think of you, not always without tears. 


The next day the Empress wrote again. 

This is the feast day of the Virgin of Unexpected Joy. I 
always read the day's service, and I know that you, dear, do 
the same. It is the anniversary of our last journey together, 
to Saratoff. Do you remember how lovely it was? The old 
holy woman is dead now, but I keep her ikon always near 
me, . . , Yesterday it was nine months since we were taken 
into captivity, and more than four months since we came here. 
Which of the English nurses was it who wrote to me? I am 
surprised to hear that Nini Voyeikoff and her family did not 
receive the ikons I sent them before leaving. Give kind regards 
to your faithful old servant and Nastia. This year I cannot 
give them anything for their Christmas tree. How sad. My 
dear, you are splendid. Christ be with you. Give my thanks to 
Fathers John and Dosifei for their remembrance. I am writing 
this morning in bed. Jimmy is sleeping nearly under my nose 
and interfering with my writing. Ortipo lies on my feet and 
keeps them warm. 

Fancy that the kind Kommissar Makaroff sent me my pic- 
tures two months ago, St. Simeon Nesteroffs, the little Annun- 
ciation from the bedroom, four small prints from my mauve 
room, five pastels of Kaulbach, four enlarged snapshots from 
Livadia; Tatania and me, Alexei as sentry, Alexander HI, 
Nicholas I, and also a small carpet from my bedroom. 

My wicker lounge chair too is standing in my bedroom now. 
Among the other cushions is the one filled with rose leaves 


given me by the Tartar women. It has been with me all the 
way. At the last moment of the night at Tsarskoe I took it 
with me, slept on it on the train and on the boat, and the 
lovely smell refreshed me. Have you had any news of Gaham 
(Chief of the Karaim) ? Write to him and give him my re- 
gards. One of our former wounded, Sirobojarski, has visited 
him. There are 22 degrees of frost today, but bright sun- 
shine. Do you remember the sister of mercy K. M. Bitner? 
She is giving the children lessons. What luck! The days 
fly. It is Saturday again, and we shall have evening service 
at nine. A corner of the drawing room has been arranged 
with our ikons and lamps. It is homelike — but not church. 
I got so used to going almost daily for three years to the church 
of Znamenia before going on to the hospitals at Tsarskoe. 

I advise you to write to M. Gilliard. (Now I have refilled 
my fountain pen.) Would you like some macaroni and coffee? 
I hope soon to send you some. It is so difficult for me here to 
take the vegetables out of the soup without eating any of it.^ 
It is easy for me to fast and to do without fresh air but I sleep 
badly. Yet I hardly feel any of the ills of the flesh. My heart 
is better, as I live such a quiet life, almost without exercise. 
I have been very thin but it is less noticeable now, although my 
gowns are like sacks. I am quite gray too. 

The spirits of the whole family are good. God is very near 
us, we feel His support, and are often amazed that we can 
endure events and separations which once might have killed 
us. Although we suffer horribly still there is peace in our souls. 
I suffer most for Russia, and I suffer for you too, but I know 
that ultimately all will be for the best. Only I don't under- 
stand anything any longer. Everyone seems to have gone mad. 
I think of you daily and love you dearly. You are splendid and 
I know how wonderfully you have grown. Do you remember 

° The Empress Alexandra Feodorovna "was always a strict vege- 


the picture by Nesteroffs, Christ's Bride? Does the convent 
still attract you in spite of your new friend? God will direct 
everything. I want to believe that I shall see your buildings 
(my hospital) in the style of a convent. Where are the sisters 
of mercy Mary and Tatiana? What has become of Princess 
Chakoffskaia, and has she married her friend? Old Madame 
Orloff has written me that her grandson John was killed in 
the War, and that his fiancee killed herself from grief. Now 
they are buried beside his father. 

My regards to my dear Lancers, to Jakoleff, Father John, 
and others. Pray for them all. I am sure that God will have 
mercy on our Russia. Has she not atoned for her awful 

My love, burn my letters. It is better. I have kept noth- 
ing of the dear past. We all kiss you tenderly and bless you. 
God is great and will not forsake those encircled by His love. 
Dear child, I shall be thinking of you especially during Christ- 
mas. I hope that we will meet again, but where and how is 
in His hands. We must leave it all to Him who knows all 
better than we. 

During that December I had the happiness of re- 
ceiving letters from the Emperor, Alexei, and the 
Grand Duchesses Tatiana, Olga, and Anastasie. The 
Emperor wrote acknowledging a note of mine written 
on his name day. 

Tobolsk, lo December, 191 7. 

Thank you so much for your kind wishes on my name day. 
Our thoughts and prayers are always with you, poor suffering 
creature. Her Majesty reads to us all your lines. Horrid to 
think all you had to go through. We are all right here. It 
is quite quiet. Pity you are not with us. Kisses and blessings 
without end from your loving friend, N. 

Give my best love to your parents. 


The children's letters were devoured because they 
gave so many details of the family life in Tobolsk. 
On December 9 Tatiana wrote : 

My darling: I often think and pray for you, and we are 
always remembering and speaking of you. It is hard that we 
cannot see each other, but God will surely help us, and we 
will meet again in better times. We wear the frocks your 
kind friends sent us, and your little gifts are always with us, 
reminding us of you. We live quietly and peacefully. The 
days pass quickly. In the morning we have lessons, walk from 
eleven to twelve before the house in a place surrounded for 
us by a high board fence. We lunch together downstairs, some- 
times Mamma and Alexei with us, but generally they lunch 
upstairs alone in Papa's study. In the afternoon we go out 
again for half an hour if it is not too cold. Tea upstairs, and 
then we read or write. Sometimes Papa reads aloud, and so 
goes by every day. On Saturdays we have evening service in 
the big hall at nine o'clock. Until that hour the priest has 
to serve in the church. On Sundays, when we are allowed, 
we go to a near-by church at eight o'clock in the morning. We 
go on foot through a garden, the soldiers who came here with 
us standing all around. They serve mass for us separately, 
and then have a mass for everybody. On holidays, alas, we 
have to have small service at home. We had to have home 
service on the 6th (St. Nicholas' day), and it was sad on such 
a big holiday not to be in church, but one can't have everything 
one wants, can one? I hope you at least can go to church. 
How are your heart and your poor legs? Do you see the doctor 
of your hospital? You remember how we used to tease you. 
Greetings to your old servants. Where are your brother and 
his wife? Have they got a baby? God bless you, my darling 
beloved. All our letters (permitted letters) go through the 
Kommissar. I am glad that the parents of Eristoff are kind 
to you. Him I remember well, but I never saw the parents. 


Isa has not come yet. Has she been to see you? I kiss you 

tenderly and love you. 

Your T. 

My darling dear Annia, How happy I was to hear from 
you. Thank you for the letter and the things. I wrote to you 
yesterday. It is so strange to be staying in the house where 
you stayed. Remember that we are sending this parcel se- 
cretly, so don't mention it. It is the only time probably that 
we can do it. Yesterday's letter I sent through the Kommis- 
sar. I am always thinking of you, my darling. We speak much 
of you among ourselves and also to Gilik, Valia, Prince Dol- 
gorouky, and Mr. Gibbs. I wear your bracelet and never take 
it off, the one you gave me on January 12, my name day. You 
remember that cozy evening by the fireside? How nice it was. 
Did you ever see Groten and Linevitch ? ® Well, good-bye, 
my darling Annia. I kiss you tenderly and love you. 

Your T. 

From the Grand Duke Alexei, December 10, 19 17. 

My darling, I hope you got my postcard. Thank you very, 

very much for the little mushroom. Your perfumes remind us 

so much of you. Every day I pray God we shall live together 

again. God bless you. 

Yours, A. 

From the Grand Duchess Olga on the same date. 

My darling, what joy it was to see your dear handwriting, 
and all the little things. Thanks awfully for all. Your per- 
fumes reminded us so of you, your cabin on board, etc. It 
was very sad. I remember you often, kiss and love you. We 

* Groten and Linevitch were the two aides-de-camp who were so 
devoted to the family during the trying period before the Revolution. 
Afterwards they were denied entrance to the palace. 


four live in the corner blue room, arranged all quite cozily. 
Opposite to us in the little room is Papa's dressing room and 
Alexei's, then comes his room with Nagori. The brown room 
is Papa's and Mamma's bedroom. Then the sitting room, 
big hall, and beyond Papa's studJ^ When there are big frosts 
it is very cold, and draughts blow from all the windows. We 
were today in church. Well, I wish you a peaceful and sunny 
Christmas. God bless you, darling. I kiss you over and over 

Ever your own Olga. 

From the Grand Duchess Anastasie. 

My darling and dear: Thank you tenderly for your little 
gift. It was so nice to have it, reminding me especially of 
you. We remember and speak of you often, and in our 
prayers we are always together. The little dog you gave is 
always with us and is very nice. We have arranged our rooms 
comfortably and all four live together. We often sit in the 
windows looking at the people passing, and this gives us dis- 
traction. . . . We have acted little plays for amusement. We 
walk in the garden behind high planks. . . . God bless you. 


From the Empress. 

My own precious child: It seems strange writing in Eng- 
lish after nine weary months. We are doing a 'risky thing 

sending this parcel, but we profit through who is still 

on the outside. Only promise to burn all we write as it could 
do you endless harm if they discovered that you were still in 
contact with us. Therefore don't judge those who are afraid 
to visit you, just leave time for people to quiet down. You 
cannot imagine the joy of getting your sweet letters. I have 
read and reread them over and over to myself and to the others. 
We all share the anguish, and the misery, and the joy to know 
that you are free at last. I won't speak of what you have 


gone through. Forget it, with the old name you have thrown 
away. Now live again. 

One has so much to say that one ends by saying nothing. I 
am unaccustomed to writing anything of consequence, just short 
letters or cards, nothing of consequence. Your perfume quite 
overcame us. It went the round of our tea table, and we all 
saw you quite clearly before us. I have no "white rose" to 
send you, and could only scent the shawl with vervaine. 
Thanks for your own mauve bottle, the lovely blue silk jacket, 
and the excellent pastilles. The children and Father were so 
touched with the things you sent, which vi^e remember so well, 
and packed up at Tsarskoe. We have none of such things with 
us, so alas, we have nothing to send you. I hope you got the 

food through and Mme. . I have sent you at 

least five painted cards, always to be recognized by my sig- 
nature. I have always to be imagining new things! 

Yes, God is wonderful and has sent you (as always) in great 
sorrow, a new friend. I bless him for all that he has done 
for you, and I cannot refrain from sending him an image, as 
to all who are kind to you. Excuse this bad writing, but my 
pen is bad, and my fingers are stiff from cold. We had the 
blessing of going to church at eight o'clock this morning. They 
don't always allow us to go. The maids are not yet let in as 
they have no papers, so the odious commandant doesn't admit 
them. The soldiers think we already have too many people 
with us. Well, thanks to all this we can still write to you. 
Something good always comes out of everything. 

Many things are very hard . . . our hearts are ready to 
burst at times. Happily there is nothing in this place that 
reminds us of you. This is better than it was at home where 
every corner was full of you. Ah, child, I am proud of you. 
Hard lessons, hard school, but you have passed your examina- 
tions so well. Thanks, child, for all you have said for us, for 
standing up for us, and for having borne all for our own and 


for Russia's sake. God alone can recompense you, for if He 
has let you see horrors He has permitted you to gaze a little 
into yonder world. Our souls are nearer now than before. 
I feel especially near you when I am reading the Bible. The 
children also are always finding texts suiting you. I am so 
contented with their souls. I hope God will bless my lessons 
with Baby. The ground is rich, but is the seed ripe enough? 
I do try my utmost, for all my life lies in this. 

Dear, I carry you always with me. I never am separated 
from your ring, but at night I wear it on my bracelet as it is so 
loose on my finger. After we received our Friend's cross we 
got also this cross to bear. God knows it is painful being cut 
off from the lives of those dear to us, after being accustomed 
for years to share every thought. But my child has grown 
self-dependent with time. In your love we are always to- 
gether. I wish we were so in fact, but God knows best. One 
learns to forget personal desires, God is merciful and will 
never forsake His children who trust Him. 

I do hope this letter and parcel will reach you safely, only 

you had better write and tell that you get everything 

safely. Nobody here must dream that we evade them, other- 
wise it would injure the kind commandant and they might 
remove him. 

I keep myself occupied ceaselessly. Lessons begin at nine 
(in bed). Up at noon for religious lessons with Tatiana, 
Marie, Anastasie, and Alexei. I have a German lesson three 
times a week with Tatiana and once with Marie, besides read- 
ing with Tatiana. Also I sew, embroider, and paint, with spec- 
tacles on because my eyes have become too weak to do with- 
out them. I read "good books" a great deal, love the Bible, 
and from time to time read novels. I am so sad because they 
are allowed no walks except before the house and behind a 
high fence. But at least they have fresh air, and we are grate- 
ful for anything. He is simply marvelous. Such meekness 


while all the time suffering intensely for the country. A 
real marvel. The others are all good and brave and un- 
complaining, and Alexei is an angel. He and I dine a deux 
and generally lunch so, but sometimes downstairs with the 

They don't allow the priest to come to us for lessons, and 
even during services officers, commandant and Kommissar, 
stand near by to prevent any conversation between us. 
Strangely enough Germogene is Bishop here, but at present 
he is in Moscow. We have had no news from my old home 
or from England. All are well, we hear, in the Crimea, but 
the Empress Dowager has grown old and very sad and tear- 
ful. As for me my heart is better as I lead such a quiet life. 
I feel utter trust and faith that all will be well, that this is 
the worst, and that soon the sun will be shining brightly. But 
oh, the victims, and the innocent blood yet to be shed! We 
fear that Baby's other little friend from Mogiloff who was 
at M. has been killed, as his name was included among cadets 
killed at Moscow. Oh, God, save Russia! That is the cry 
of one's soul, morning, noon and night. Only not that shame- 
less peace.^ 

I hope you got yesterday's letter through Mme. *s 

son-in-law. How nice that you have him in charge of your 
affairs. Today my mind is full of Novgorod and the awful 
I7th.^ Russia must suffer for that murder too. Dear, I am 
glad you see me in your dreams. I have seen you only twice, 
vaguely, but some day we shall be together again. When? I 
do not ask. He alone knows. How can one ask more? We 
simply give thanks for every day safely ended. I hope no- 
body will ever see these letters, as the smallest thing makes 
them react upon us with severity. That is to say we get no 
church services outside or in. The suite and the maids may 

^ Brest-Litovsk. 

"Anniversary of Rasputine's assassination. 


leave the house only if guarded by soldiers, so of course they 
avoid going. Some of the soldiers are kind, others horrid. 

Forgive this mess, but I am in a hurry and the table is 
crowded with painting materials. So glad you liked my old 
blue book. I have not a line of yours — all the past is a dream. 
One keeps only tears and grateful memories. One by one all 
earthly things slip away, houses and possessions ruined, friends 
vanished. One lives from day to day. But God is in all, and 
nature never changes. I can see all around me churches (long 
to go to them), and hills, the lovely world. Wolkoff wheels 
me in my chair to church across the street from the public 
garden. Some of the people bow and bless us, but others don't 
dare. All our letters and parcels are examined, but this one 
today is contraband. Father and Alexei are sad to think they 
have nothing to send 3'ou, and I can only clasp my weary child 
in my arms and hold her there as of old. I feel old, oh, so old, 
but I am still the mother of this country, and I suffer its pains 
as my own child's pains, and I love it in spite of all its sins 
and horrors. No one can tear a child from its mother's heart, 
and neither can you tear away one's country, although Russia's 
black ingratitude to the Emperor breaks my heart. Not that it 
is the whole country, though. God have mercy and save 

Little friend, Christmas without me — up in the sixth story! 
My beloved child, long ago I took you to hold in my heart and 
never to be separated. In my heart is love and forgiveness for 
everything, though at times I am not as patient as I ought to 
be. I get angry when people are dishonest, or when they un- 
necessarily hurt and offend those I love. Father, on the other 
hand, bears everything. He wrote to you of his own accord. I 
did not ask him. Please thank everybody who wrote to us in 
English. But the less they know we correspond the better, 
otherwise they may stop all letters. 

Ever your own, A. 


The increasing poverty and hardships which sur- 
rounded the exiles, to say nothing of the lonely desola- 
tion of their lives, could not be kept out of the Em- 
press's letters, although she tried to write cheerfully. 
I could read, in the growing discursiveness of her con- 
traband letters, the disturbed and abnormal condition 
of her usual keen and concise mind. On December 15, 
19 1 7, she wrote: 

Dearest little one: Again I am writing to you, and you 

must thank and reply carefully. My maids are not yet 

allowed to come to me, although they have been here eleven 
days. I don't know how it will come out. Isa (Baroness 
Buxhoevden, lady in waiting) is ill again. I hear that she will 
be allowed in when she arrives, as she has a permis, but I doubt 
it. I understand j'our wounded feelings when she did not go 
to see you, but does she know your address? She is timid, and 
her conscience in regard to you is not quite clear. She remem- 
bers perhaps my words to her last Autumn that there might 
come a time when she too would be taken from me and not 
allowed to return. She lives in the Gorochovaia with a niece. 
Zizi Narishkine (a former lady in waiting) lives in the Ser- 
gievskja, 54. 

I hope you will receive the things we sent for Christmas. 
Anna and Wolkoff helped me to send the parcels, the others 

I sent through , so I make use of the opportunity to write 

to you. Be sure to write when you receive them. I make a 
note in my book whenever I write. I have drawn some post- 
cards. Did you receive them? One of these days I shall send 
you some flour. 

It is bright sunshine and everj^hing glitters with hoar 
frost. There are such moonlight nights, it must be ideal on the 
hills. But my poor unfortunates can only pace up and down 
the narrow yard. How I long to take Communion. We took 



it last on October 22, but now it is so awkward, one has to 
ask permission before doing the least thing. I am reading 
Solomon and the writings of St. Seraph, every time finding 
something new. How glad I am that none of your things got 
lost, the albums I left with mine in the trunk. It is dreary 
without them, but still better so, for it would hurt to look at 
them. and remember. Some thoughts one is obliged to drive 
away, they are too poignant, too fresh in one's memory. All 
things for us are in the past, and what the future holds I cannot 
guess, but God knows, and I have given everything into His 
keeping. Pray for us and for those we love, and especially for 
Russia when you are at the shrine of the "All-Hearing Virgin." 
I love her beautiful face. I have asked Chemoduroff to take 
out a prayer (slip of paper with names of you all) on Sunday. 

Where is your poor old Grandmamma? I often think of 
her in her loneliness, and of your stories after you had been 
to see her. Who will wish you a happy Christmas on the 
telephone? Where is Serge and his wife? Where is Alex- 
ander Pavlovitch? Did you know that Linewitch had mar- 
ried, and Groten also, straight from the Fortress? Have you 
seen Mania Rebinder? This Summer they were still at Pav- 
lovskoie, but since we left we have heard nothing of them. 
Where are Bishops Isidor and Melchisedek? Is it true that 
Protopopoff has creeping paralysis? Poor old man, I under- 
stand that he has not been able to write anything yet, his 
experiences being too near. Strange are our lives, are they not? 
One could write volumes. 

Zinaida Tolstoaia and her husband have been in Odessa 
for some time. They write frequently, dear people. Rita 
Hitrovo is staying with them, but she scarcely writes at all. 
They are expecting Lili Dehn soon, but I have heard nothing 
from her for four months. One of our wounded, Sedloff, is 
also in Odessa. Do you know anything of Malama?® Did 

*A wounded officer and friend. 


Eristoff give you Tatiana's letter? Baida Apraxin and the 
whole family except the husband are in Yalta. He is in 
Moscow at the church conference. Professor Serge Petro- 
vitch is also in Moscow. Petroff was, and Konrad is, in Tsar- 
skoe. There too is Marie Rudiger BelaiefE. Constadious, 
our old general, is dead. I try to give you news of all, though 
you probably know more than I do. 

The children wear the brooches that Mme. Soukhomlinof? 
sent them. Mine I hung over a frame. Do you ever see old 
Mme. Orloff ? Her grandson John was killed, and her Alexei 
is far away. It is sad for the poor old woman. 

I am knitting stockings for the small one (Alexei). He 
asked for a pair as all his are in holes. Mine are warm and 
thick like the ones I gave the wounded, do you remember? 
I make everything now. Father's trousers are torn and darned, 
the girls' under-linen in rags. Dreadful, is it not? I have 
grown quite gray. Anastasie, to her despair, is now very fat, 
as Marie was, round and fat to the waist, with short legs. 
I do hope she will grow. Olga and Tatiana are both thin, 
but their hair grows beautifully so that they can go without 
scarfs. Fancy that the papers say that Prince Volodia Trou- 
betskoy has joined Kaledin with all his men. Splendid ! I am 
sure that N. D.^'' will take part also now that he is serving in 
Odessa. I find myself writing in English, I don't know why. 
Be sure to burn all these letters as at any time your house may 
be searched again. 

"A well-known marine officer. 


THROUGH the winter and spring of 191 8 I con- 
tinued to receive letters and parcels, mostly con- 
traband, from my friends in Siberia. I wish I dared to 
tell how and through whom these precious messages 
reached me, for it all belongs in the story of Revolu- 
tionary Russia. It illustrates the truth, often demon- 
strated, that tyranny and oppression can never kill the 
spirit of freedom in human beings. There are al- 
ways a minority of people who hold their lives cheap 
by comparison with liberty, and in such people lives 
deathlessly the inspiration of fidelity to those they 
love, no matter how relentlessly the loved ones are 
persecuted. Poor as I was, poor as was the small 
group of friends who worked with me to communicate 
with the Imperial Family, we managed to get to them 
the necessities they lacked. Dangerous and difficult as 
travel was in those days, every traveler being almost 
certain to be searched several times along the way, 
there were three, two officers and a young girl, who 
at the risk of imprisonment and death by the most un- 
speakable tortures, calmly and fearlessly acted as em- 
missaries back and forth between Petrograd and re- 
mote Tobolsk. They had friends along the way, of 
course, but how they managed, through months of con- 
stant peril, to carry on their work is one of those 
mysteries which, to my mind, are not wholly earthly. 



On January 9, 19 18, I received the following 
Christmas letter from the Empress. 

Thank you, darling, for all your letters which were a great 
joy to me and to us all. On Christmas Eve I received the 

letter and the perfume, then more scent by little . I 

regret not having se^n her. Did you receive the parcels sent 
through the several friends, flour, coffee, tea, and lapscha (a 
kind of macaroni) ? The letters and the snapshots sent 

through , did you get them? I am worried as I hear 

that all parcels containing food are opened. I begin today to 
number my letters, and you must keep account of them. Your 
cards, the small silver dish, and Lili's tiny silver bell I have 
not yet been able to receive. 

We all congratulate you on your name day. May God 
bless, comfort, strengthen you, and give you joy. Believe, 
dear, that God will yet save our beloved country. He will not 
be unforgiving. Think of the Old Testament and the suffer- 
ings of the Children of Israel for their sins. And now it is 
we who have forgotten God, and that is why they ^ cannot 
bring any happiness. How I prayed on the 6th that God 
would send the spirit of good judgment and the fear of the 
Lord. Everyone apparently have lost their heads. The reign 
of terror is not yet over, and it is the sufferings of the inno- 
cent which nearly kills us. What do people live on now that 
everything is taken from them, their homes, their incomes, 
their money? We must have sinned terribly for our Father in 
Heaven to punish so frightfully. But I firmly and unfal- 
teringly believe that in the end He will save us. The strange 
thing about the Russian character is that it can so suddenly 
change to evil, cruelty, and unreason, and can as suddenly 
change back again. This is in fact simply want of character. 
Russians are in reality big, ignorant children. However it is 

* Presumably the Soviet Government. 


well known that during long wars all bad passions flame up. 
What is happening is awful, the murders, the persecutions, the 
imprisonments, but all of it must be suffered if we are to be 
cleansed, new born. 

Forgive me, darling, that I write to you so sadly. I often 
wear your jackets, the blue and the mauve, as it is fearfully 
cold in the house. Outside the frosts are not often severe, 
and sometimes I go out and even sit on the balcony. The 
children are just recovering from scarletina, except Anastasie, 
who did not catch it. The elder ones began the new year by 
being in bed, JMarie, of course, having a temperature of 39.5. 
Their hair is growing well. Lessons have begun again. Yes- 
terday I gave three. Today I am free, and am therefore 
writing. On the 2nd of Januar}' I thought of you and sent 
a candle to be set before the Holy Seraphim. I have asked 
that prayers may be said in the cathedral where the relics lie, 
for all our dear ones. You remember the old pilgrim who 
came to Tsarskoe Selo. Fancy that he has been here. He 
wandered in with his big staff, and sent me a prosvera (holy 

I have begun your books. The style is quite different from 
the others. I have got myself some good books, too, but have 
not much time for reading. I embroider, knit, draw, and give 
lessons, but my eyes are getting weaker so that I can no longer 
work without glasses. You will see me quite an old woman ! 
Did you know that the marine officer Nicolai Demenkoff has 
appendicitis? He is in Odessa. One of our wounded, Orobor- 
jarsky, was operated on there a month ago. He is so sad and 
homesick, so far away. I correspond with his mother, a gentle, 
good, and really Christian soul. Lili Dehn went to see her. 

1 trust you received the painted cards that I put in the 
parcel of provisions. Not all were successful. If you receive 
my letters just write, thanks for No. i, etc. My three maids 
and Isa are still not allowed to come to us, and they are very 


much distressed, just sitting idle. But is of better use 

on the outside. Little one, where are your brother Serge 
and his wife? I know nothing of them. Your poor sister 
Alya, I hope she is not too sad; she has friends, but her hus- 
band, has he not become too sad away from her? How are the 
sweet children? Miss Ida is with her still, I hope. Did you 
know that sister Grekova is to be married soon to Baron Taube? 
How glad I am that you have seen A. P. Did he not seem 
strange out of uniform, and what did he say about his brother? 
Ah, all is past, and will never return. We must begin a new 
life and forget self. I must finish, my dear little soul. Christ 
be with you. Greetings to all. I kiss your mother. I con- 
gratulate you again. I want quickly to finish the small paint- 
ing, and get it to you. I fear you are again passing through 
fearful days. Reports filter through of murders of officers 
in Sevastopol. Rodionoff and his brother are there. 

Your own, A. 

On the 1 6th of January the Empress wrote me a 
letter in Old Slavonic style to congratulate me on my 
name day. In this she addresses me as "Sister Sera- 
phine." I should explain that my hospital in Tsarskoe 
Selo bore the name of that saint, because it was on her 
day that I suffered the terrible railway accident which 
left me lamed for life, but which gave me, in damages, 
the funds for founding the hospital. 

Dearly beloved Sister Seraphine: 

From a full heart I wish you well on your name day! God 
send you many blessings, good health, fortitude, meekness, 
strength to bear all punishments and sorrows sent by God, 
and gladness of soul. May the sun lighten the path you tread 
through life, warm all by your love, and let your light shine 
forth these sad, gloomy days. Do not despair, suffering sister, 











O M 
2i ^ 











God will hear your prayers, all in good time. Also we pray 
for thee, sister chosen of the Lord. We have thee in fond 
remembrance. Your little corner is far away from us. All 
who love thee in this place send greetings. Do not misjudge 
the bad writing of thy sister. She is illiterate, an ailing lay 
sister. I am learning the writing of prayers, but weakness of 
sight prevents my striving. I read the works of Bishop Gr. 
Nissky, but he writes too much of the creation of the world. 
From our sister Zinaida I have received news, so much good 
will in every word, breathing peace of the soul. 

The family known to thee are in good health, the children 
have suffered from the usual ills of the young, but are now 
restored to health. The youngest ill, but in good spirits how- 
ever, and without suffering. The Lord has blessed the weather, 
beautiful and soft; Thy sister walks out and enjoys the sun, 
but when there is more frost she hides in her cell, takes a 
stocking, puts on her spectacles, and knits. Sister Sophia,- 
not long since arrived, has not been granted admittance, those 
in authority having refused it. She has found hospitality at 
the priest's with her old woman. The other sisters are all in 
different places. Dearly loved sister, art thou not weary read- 
ing this letter? All the others have gone to dinner. I remain 
on guard by the sick Anastasia. In the cells next ours is 
sister Catherina ^ giving a lesson. We are embroidering for 
church. Sisters Tatiana and Maria with great zeal. Our 
father Nicholas gathers us around him in the evenings, and 
reads to us while we pass the time with needlework. With 
his meekness and good health he does not disdain to saw and 
chop wood for our needs, cleans the roads, too, with the chil- 
dren. Our mother Alexandra greets thee, sister, and sends 
her motherly blessings and hopes, sister, that thou livest in 
the Spirit of Christ. Life is hard but the spirit is strong. Dear 

*Isa, Baroness Buxhoevden, lady in waiting. 
*Miss Schneider. 

i,v .• 1 .-1.^ -.i,^ 


sister Seraphine, may God keep thee. I beg for your prayers. 
Christ be with thee. 

The Sinful sister Feodora, 

Prayers ! 

22 of January. 
So unexpectedly I received the letter of the ist and the card 
of the loth. I hasten to reply. Tenderly we thank through 
you Karochinsky. Really it is touching that even now we 
are not forgotten. God grant that his estates should be spared. 
God bless him. I am sending you some food but I do not 
know if it will ever reach you. Often we think of you. I 
wrote to you on the i6th through the hospital, on the 17th 

a card by Mr. Gibbs, and on the 9th two letters by . 

There! I have dropped my favorite pen and broken it. How 
provoking! It is fearfully cold, 29 degrees, 7 in the bathroom, 
and blowing in from everywhere. Such a wind, but they are 
all out. We hope to see the officer Tamarov if only from a 
distance. So glad you received everything. I hope you wear 
the gray shawl, and that it smells of vervaine, a well-remem- 
bered scent. Kind Zinoschka found it in Odessa, and sent it 
to me. 

I am so surprised you have made the acquaintance of 
Gorky. He was awful formerly. Disgusting and immoral 
books and plays he wrote. Can it be the same man? How 
he fought against father and Russia when he lived in ItalJ^ 
Be careful, my love. I am so glad j^ou can go to church. To 
us it is forbidden, so service is at home, and a new priest serves. 
How glad I am that all is well with Serge. With Tina it 
will be difficult, but God will help her. It is true what they 
say about Marie Rebinder's husband? She wrote me, through 
Isa, that they are still in Petrograd, and that they threatened 
to kill him. It is difficult to understand people now. Some- 
times they are with the Bolshevists outwardly, but in their 
hearts they are against them. 


The cross we hung over the children's beds during their ill- 
ness but during church service it lies on the table. Bishop 
Gerogene serves special prayers daily for father and mother — 
he is quite on their side, which is strange. I must hurry as 
one waits to take this letter. I am sending you a prayer I 
wrote on a piece of birchbark we cut. I can't draw much as 
my eyes are so bad, also my fingers are quite stiff from cold. 
Such a wind, and it blows so in the rooms. I am sending you 
a little image of the Holy Virgin. Thanks for the lovely 
prayer. I wear often the jackets you gave me. I send you all 
my soul-prayers and love. I believe firmly so I am quite calm. 
We are all your own and kiss you tenderly. 

On the same day Grand Duchess Olga wrote a brief 

Dearest, we were so glad to hear from you. How cold 
it is these days, and what a strong wind. We have just come 
back from a walk. On our window it is written — "Anna 
darling " I wonder who wrote it. God bless you, dear. 

^^ ^^1^- Your Olga. 

Give my love to all who remember me. 

Two other notes from Olga followed in February 
and just before Easter. 

Darling, with all my loving heart I am with you these hard 
days for you. God help and comfort you, my darling. On 
Mamma's table stands the mauve bottle you sent her and 
which reminds us so much of you. There is much sun, but 
great frosts also and winds, and very cold in the rooms, espe- 
cially in our comer room, where we live as before. All are 
well, and we walk much in the yard. There are many churches 
around here, so we are always hearing bells ringing. God 
bless you, darling. How sad your brother and sister are not 

with you. -V- r^ 

•' Your own Olga. 


We all congratulate you tenderly with the coming Easter, 
and wish you to spend it as peacefully as anyone can now. I 
always think of you when they sing during mass the prayer we 
used to sing together on the yacht. I kiss you. 


The other children also wrote me at this time. 
Grand Duchess Tatlana wrote two short but 
characteristic notes, the first one on my name day, 
January 12. In all these letters It will be seen how 
confidently the family looked forward to a future of 
freedom and happiness. This constant optimism In 
the midst of ever-Increasing surveillance and cruelty 
is my excuse for Including notes of slight general 

Tatlana wrote first : 

"You remember the cozy evenings by the fireside? How 
nice it was. Did you again see Groten and Linevitch? (the 
faithful aides-de-camp). Well, good-bye, my darling Annia. 
God bless you. Good-bye — till when ? 

Your T. 

Also — 

My beloved darling. How happy we are to get news from 
you. I hope you got my letters. I think often of you and 
pray God to keep you from all harm and help you. I am 
glad you know the Eristoffs now. We get such good letters 
from Zina, she writes so well. There are many sadnesses in 
these days. God be with you. It is very cold. Papa wears 
his Cossack uniform and we remember how much you liked it. 
I kiss you tenderly, and love you, and congratulate you on your 
dear name day. 


From the Grand Duchess Marie Nicolaevna. 


Good morning, my darling! What a long time since I have 
written to you, and how glad I was to get your little letter. 
It is very sad we don't see each other, but God will arrange 
for us to meet, and what joy it will be then. We live in the 
house where you have been. Do you remember the rooms? 
They are quite comfortable when a little arranged. We walk 
out twice every day. Some of the people here are kind. Every 
day I remember you, and love you very much. Mr. Gibbs 
gave us photographs he made of you — it was so nice to have 
them. Your perfumes remind us so much of you. I wish you 
every blessing from God, and kiss you tenderly. Don't be 
sad. Love to all yours. y^^^ j^^j^g ^^^^^ 

My darling beloved, how are you? We are all well, walk 
much in the yard, and have a little hill down which we can 
slide. There is much frost these days so Mama sits at home. 
You will probably get this in February, so I congratulate you 
on your name day. God help you in future and bless you. 
We always remember and speak of you. May God guard all 
your ways. Don't be sad, dear. All will be well, and we 
shall be together again. I kiss you tenderly. Marif 

Alexei wrote that same month of January, 1918 : 

My darling Annia. We are so glad to have news from you, 
and to hear that you got all our things. Today there are 29 
degrees of frost, a strong wind, and sunshine. We walked, 
and I went on skees in the yard. Yesterday I acted with 
Tatiana and Gilik a French piece. We are now preparing 
another piece. We have a few good soldiers with whom I 
play games in their rooms. Kolia Deravenko comes to me on 
holidays. Nagorini, the sailor, sleeps with me. As servants 
we have Wolkoff, Sednoff, Troup, and Chemodurofif. It is 
time to go to lunch. I kiss and embrace you. God bless you. 



The remaining letters from the Empress, dating 
from the end of January to the last days of April, 
19 1 8, are uncomplaining, yet are full of suffering and 
the prescience of tragic events to come. I do not be- 
lieve that the Empress ever lost faith in the ultimate 
happiness of her beloved family, but her keen mind 
fully comprehended the terrible march of events in the 
torn Empire, and she knew that trials and still greater 
trials had to be faced by the Emperor and herself. 
Her courage in the face of this certain conviction is 
beyond any praise of mine. 

On the 23rd of January she wrote: 

My precious child: There is a possibility of writing to you 

now as leaves here on the 26th. I only hope no 

one robs him on the way. He takes you two pounds of maca- 
roni, three pounds of rice, and a little ham. It is so well 

does not live with us. I have knitted stockings, and 

have knitted you a pair. They are men's size but they will do 
under valenki and when it is cold in the rooms. Here we 
have 29 degrees of frost, and 6 in the big room. It is blowing 
terribly. I was keenly touched by the money you sent, but do 
not send any more as for the present we have all we need. 
There have been days when we did not know what to do. I 
wonder what you are living on. The little money you had I 
put in the box with your jewels. (My fingers are so stiff I 
can hardly hold my pen.) I am glad your rooms are so com- 
fortable and so light, but it must be difficult for you to climb 
the long staircase. How are your poor back and legs ? 

I know nothing about Lili Dehn, and from my two sisters 
and my brother I have heard nothing for a year. Only one 
letter from my sister Elizabeth (Grand Duchess Serge) last 
summer. Olga Alexandrovna * writes long letters to the chil- 

* Sister of the Emperor. 


dren all about her boy whom she adores and nurses herself. 
The grandmamma I think is getting very old, and is very sad, 

Tudles has four in her room. They say that Marie P.® 
lives well in Kisslowdsk, both her sons are with her and she 
receives all the beau monde from Petrograd. Merika® lives 
there also and is expecting a baby. Marianna Ratkova has 
bought a house there, and receives on Thursdays. Mr. Gibbs 
asks often about you, also Tudles, and my big Niouta Demi- 
doff. The little doggy lies on my knees and warms them. It 
is mortally cold, but in Petrograd there is probably worse 
darkness, hunger, and cold. God help you all to bear it 
patiently. The worse here the better in yonder world. 

It hurts to think how much bloodshed will have to be before 
better days come. . . . Darling, I send you all my love, and 
am so sad I can send you little else. I embroider for the 
church when my eyes allow me, otherwise I knit, but soon I 
shall have no more wool. We can't get any here — too dear, 
and verj' bad. I have had a letter from Shoura Petrovskaia, 
who is taking care of her brother's children. She sews boots 
and sells them. In October the children got a letter from 
their old nurse in England — the first one from there. What 
rot they publish about Tatiana in the newspapers! Do you 
see your new friend and saviour often? How is he? Love 
to your kind parents. I would love to write you certain 
things of interest, but just now there are many things one 
can't put in a letter. The little one has put on a sweater, and 
the girls wear valenki in their rooms. I know how sad you 
would feel. . . . 

The kind servant Sednoff has just brought me a cup of 
cocoa to warm me up. How do you pray with the rosary, and 
what prayers do you say on tvtry tenth? I generally say Our 
Father and to the Holy Virgin, but should one say the same 

* Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna. 
'Princess Galatzine. 


prayer to the end ? I looked for it in the books but did not get 
any information. I long so to go to church but they allow us 
that only on great holidays (feasts). So we hope to go on 
the 2nd of February, and on the 3rd I shall order prayers 
at the relics for you. How is poor old Soukhomlinoff ? 
Where is Sacha? I suppose one may completely trust the 
little officer you sent. I asked him to make the acquaint- 
ance of the priest who served us before, a most devoted and 
energetic man, a real fighting priest — more than spiritual per- 
haps — yet with a charming face, and a constantly sweet smile, 
very thin, long gray beard, and clever eyes. His feeling for 
us is known all over the country now by the good ones, there- 
fore they took him away from us, but perhaps better so, as he 
can do more now. The Bishop is quite for father and mother, 
and so is the Patriarch in Moscow, and it seems most of the 
clergy. Only you must be careful what sort of people come 
to you. I am so anxious about your seeing Gorky. Be pru- 
dent, and don't have any serious conversations with him. Peo- 
ple will try to get around you as before. I don't mean real 
friends, honest-meaning people, but others who for personal 
reasons will use you as their shield. Then you will have the 
brutes after you again. 

I am racking my brains what to send you, as one can get 
nothing here at all. Our Christmas presents were all the work 
of our own hands, and now I must give my eyes a rest. . . . 
How pleased I was that Princess Eristoff has spoken so kindly 
of us. Give her and also her son our love. Where does he 
serve now? The people here are very friendly — lots of 
Kirghise. When I sit in the window they bow to me, if the 
soldiers are not looking. 

What dreadful news about the robbing of the sacristy in the 
Winter Palace. There were so many precious relics and many 
of our own ikons. They say it has been the same in the church 
of Gatchina. Did you know that the portraits of my parents 


and of father have been utterly destroyed? Also my Russian 
Court dresses and all the others as well? But the destruction 
of the churches is the worst of all. They say it was the soldiers 
from the hospital in the Winter Palace who did it. . . . We 
hear that the soldiers in Smolny have seized all available food, 
and are quite indifferent to the prospect of the people starving. 
Why was money sent to us rather than having been given to 
the poor? True, there were for us some very difficult times 
when we could not pay any bills, and when for four months 
the servants had to go without any wages. The soldiers here 
were not paid, so they simply took our money to keep them 
quiet. All this is petty, but it makes great trouble for the 
commandant. 'The Hofmarshall Chancelerie is still in ex- 
istence, but when they abolish it I really don't know what we 
shall do. Well, God will help, and we still have what we 

I think often of Livadia and what may be happening there. 
They say that many former political prisoners are stationed 
there. Where is our dear yacht, the Standertf I am afraid 
to inquire about it. My God ! How I suffered when I heard 
that you were imprisoned on the Polar Star. I cannot think of 
the yacht. It hurts too much. 

It is said that our Kommissar is about to be removed, and 
we are so rejoiced. His assistant will leave with him. They 
are both terrible men, Siberian convicts formerly. The Kom- 
missar was in prison for fifteen years. The soldiers have de- 
cided to send them away, but thank God they have left us our 
commandant. The soldiers manage absolutely everything 

I am lying down, as it is six o'clock. There is a fire burning 
but it barely warms the room. Soon the little one will be 
coming in for a lesson. I am teaching the children the Divine 
Service. May God help me to teach it to them so that it will 
remain with them through their whole lives, and develop their 


souls. It is a big responsibility. ... It is such a blessing to 
live all together, and be so near to one another. Still you must 
know what I have to endure, having no news from my brother, 
nor any idea of what lies in the future. My poor brother also 
knows nothing of us. If I thought my own little old home 
and the family would have to suffer what we have — it is awful ! 
Then it might begin also in England. However you remember 
that our Friend said that no harm would come to my old home." 
I try to suppress all these thoughts that my soul may not be 
overwhelmed with despair. I trust all my dear ones to the 
Holy Virgin. May she shield them from all evil. I still have 
much to thank God for ; you are well, and I can write to you ; 
I am not separated from our own darlings. Thank God we 
are still in Russia (this is the chief thing), and we are near 
the relics of the Metropolitan John, and we have peace. 
Good-bye, my little daughter. 

Old friends continued to be very dear to the exiled 
Empress, and she kept up her Interest In all their af- 
fairs. Of my sister-ln-law who had her first child 
while her husband was fighting on the Rumanian front 
the Empress wrote : 

How much better it would have been if Tina could have gone 
to Odessa to have her baby, not far from Serge, and where kind 
Zinotchka could have looked after her and arranged everything. 
But now that the Rumanians have taken KichinefE Serge has 
probably left, and they are together again. Sharing hardships 
will cause their love to increase and strengthen. How is Alyas's 
(my sister) health? Was it Mariana's former husband, 
Derfelden, who was killed in the south? Her mother and 
family live in Boris's house. 

I sometimes see Isa in the street (i.e. from the window). 

' Rasputine foresaw this correctly and the Grand Duke of Hesse 
retains his old home in peace. 


The sister of mercy Tatiana Andriev'na is now in Petrograd 
taking care of her sister. Later she will return to Moscow. 
She seems rather nervous. Give our greetings to our con- 
fessor, father Afanasi, father Alexander, and my poor old Zio. 
I don't know anything about my second sen-ant Kondratieff. 
What has become of our chauffeurs and the coachman KonkofF? 
Is old General Schwedoff still alive? 

Holy Virgin, keep my daughter from all danger, bless and 
console her! 

5th of February, 191 8. 

My own darling little one. How terribly sad I am for you 
about the death of your dear father, and that I could not be 
with you to help and console you in your great sorrow. You 
know that I am with you in my prayers. May Christ and the 
Holy Virgin comfort you, and wipe the tears from your eyes. 
May God receive his soul in peace. Tomorrow morning I will 
ask Anoushka to go and order service for him for forty days 
near the relics. Alas we can pray only at home. In him we 
both lost a true friend of many years. Father and the children 
suffer with you, tenderly kiss you, and know all that your sen- 
sitive heart feels. 

As your telegram went by post I don't know what day God 
took him to himself. Is it possible it was the same day you 
wrote to me? I am so glad you saw him daily, but how did it 
happen, your poor father? For himself one must thank God — 
so many hardships to live through — no home, and ever}thing so 
bad. I remember how it was foretold to us (by Rasputine) 
that he would die when Serge married. And you two women 
are all alone now. I wonder if your brother-in-law was there 
to help you, or your kind uncle. I shall try to write to his 
address a long letter, and also to your mother. Tell her I kiss 
her tenderly, and how much we have always loved her and 
honored your father. He was a rare man. . . . Don't cry. He 
is happy now, rests and prays for you at the Throne of God. 


I am glad that you received my two letters. Now you will 
get two more. What your little messenger will tell you about 
your dear ones is for yourself alone. What horrors go on at 
Yalta and Massandra — My God! Where is the salvation for 
us all and for the poor officers? All the churches being ruined 
— nothing held sacred any more — it will finish in some terrible 
earthquake, or something like it as the chastisement of God. 
May He have mercy on our beloved country. How I pray 
for Russia. . . . 

They say that the Japanese are in Tomsk and keep good order 
there. I hope you got our little parcel. As we have no sugar 
I shall send you a little honey which you can eat during Lent. 
We live still by the old style, but probably shall have to change. 
Only I don't know how it will be then with Lent and all the 
services (festivals and fasts). The people may be very angry 
if two weeks are thrown out. That is why it was never done 
before. . , . 

The sun shines and even warms us in the day times. I feel 
that God will not forsake but will save us, though all is so 
dark and tears are flowing everywhere. . . . My little one, 
don't suffer too much. All this had to be. Only My God, 
how sorry I am for the innocent ones killed ever\'where. I 
can't write any more. Ask your mother to forgive the mis- 
takes I shall make in writing to her in Russian, and that I can- 
not express myself as warmly as I would like to. Good-bye, my 
darling. I am sending you letters from father and the children. 

2nd of March, 191 8. 
Darling child : Thanks for all from father, mother and 
the children. How you spoil us all by your dear letters and 
gifts. I was ver}^ anxious going so long without news from 
you, especially as rumors came that you were gone. Alas, I 
can't write you as I could wish for fear that this may fall into 
other hands. We have not yet received all that you have sent 
(contraband). It comes to us little by little. Dear child, do 


be careful of the people who come to see you. The way is so 
slippery, and it is so easy to fall. Sometimes a road is cleared 
through the snow on which one's true friends are to walk — and 
then the road becomes still more slipper>' ! 

We are all right, and I am now a real mistress of a house- 
hold, going over accounts with M. Gilliard. New work and 
ver)'' practical. The weather is sunnj — they are even sun- 
burned, and even when the frost comes back it is warmer in 
the sun. I have sat twice on the balcony and sometimes sit in 
the yard. My heart has been much better, but for a week I 
have had great pains in it again. I worry so much. My God ! 
How Russia suffers. You know that I love it even more than 
you do, miserable countr>', demolished from within, and by the 
Germans from without. Since the Revolution they have con- 
quered a great deal of it without even a battle. ... If they 
created order now in Russia how dreadful would be the coun- 
try's debasement — to have to be grateful to the enemy. They 
must never dare to attempt any conversations with father or 

We hope to go to Communion next week, if they allow us 
to go to church. We have not been since the 6th of January. 
I shall pray to the rosary you have written. Kiss your poor 
mother. I am glad you took some of your things from the 
hospital. Best love to poor G. Soukhomllnoiff. What terrible 
times you are all living through. On the whole we are better 
o£F than you. . . . Soon spring is coming to rejoice our hearts. 
The way of the cross first — then joy and gladness. It will soon 
be a year since we parted, but what is time? Life here is 
nothing — eternity is everjthing, and what we are doing is pre- 
paring our souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus nothing, 
after all, is terrible, and if they do take everything from us they 
cannot take our souls. . . . Have patience, and these days of 
suffering will end, we shall forget all the anguish and thank 
God. God help those who see only the bad, and don't try to 


understand that all this will pass. It cannot be otherwise. I 
cannot write all that fills my soul, but you, my little martyr, 
understand it better than I. You are farther on than I. . . . 
We live here on earth but we are already half gone to the next 
world. We see with different eyes, and that makes it often 
difficult to associate with people who call themselves, and really 
are religious. . . . My greatest sin is my irritability. The 
endless stupidity of my maid, for instance — she can't help being 
stupid, she is so often untruthful, or else she begins to sermonize 
like a preacher and then I burst — ^you know how hot-tempered 
I am. It is not difficult to bear great trials, but these little 
buzzing mosquitoes are so tr>ing. I want to be a better 
woman, and I tr}\ For long periods I am really patient, and 
then breaks out again my bad temper. We are to have a new 
confessor, the second in these seven months. I beg j'our for- 
giveness, too, darling. Day after tomorrow is the Sunday before 
Lent when one asks forgiveness for all one's faults. Forgive 
the past, and pray for me. Yesterday we had prayers for the 
dead, and we did not forget your father. A few days ago was 
the twenty-sixth anniversary of my father's death. I long to 
warm and to comfort others — but alas, I do not feel drawn to 
those around me here. I am cold towards them, and this, too, is 
wrong of me. 

The cowardly yielding of the Bolshevist govern- 
ment to the triumphant Germans was a source of con- 
stant suffering to the Empress. In subsequent letters 
written me that spring she speaks almost Indifferently 
of the cold and privations suffered In the house In 
Tobolsk, but she becomes passionate when she writes 
of the German Invasion. 

What a nightmare it is that it is Germans who are saving 
Russia (from Communism) and are restoring order. What 


could be more humiliating for us? With one hand the Ger- 
mans give, and with the other they take away. Already they 
have seized an enormous territory, God help and save this 
unhappy country. Probably He wills us to endure all these 
insults, but that we must take them from the Germans almost 
kills me. During a war one can understand these things 
happening, but not during a revolution. Now Batoum has 
been taken — our country is disintegrating into bits. I cannot 
think calmly about it. Such hideous pain in heart and soul. 
Yet I am sure God will not leave it like this. He will send 
wisdom and save Russia I am sure. 

It will always be to me an Immense gratification that 
in the midst of her great pain and sorrow for Russia's 
piteous plight our small group of friends in Petrograd, 
and those brave souls who dared to risk their lives 
as message bearers, were able to get to the forlorn 
family in desolate Siberia at least the necessities of life 
of which a cruel and inefficient government deprived 
them. The Empress who all her life had but to com- 
mand what she wanted for herself and her children 
was grateful, pathetically grateful, for the simple 
garments, the cheap little luxuries, even the materials 
for needlework we were able to convey to them. She 
thanks me almost effusively for the jackets and 
sweaters we sent her and the girls in their cold rooms. 
The wool was so soft and nice, but the linen, she 
feared, was almost too fine. This was early in March, 
but spring was already creeping across the steppes. 

The weather is so fine that I have been sitting out on the 
balcony writing music for the Lenten prayers, as we have no 
printed notes. We had to sing this morning without any prepa- 
ration, but it went — well, not too badly. God helped. After 


service we tried to sing some new prayers with the new deacon, 
and I hope it will go better tonight.' 

On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings we were 
allowed to go to the eight o'clock morning service in church — 
imagine the joy and comfort! The other days we five women 
will sing during the home service. It reminds me of Livadia 
and Oreanda. This week we shall spend the evenings alone 
with the children, as we want to read together. I know of 
nothing new. My heart is troubled but my soul remains tran- 
quil as I feel God always near. Yet what are they deciding on 
in Moscow? God help us. 

"Peace and yet the Germans continue to advance farther and 
farther in," wrote the Empress on March 13 (Russian). 
"When will it all finish ? When God allows. How I love miy 
country, with all its faults. It grows dearer and dearer to me, 
and I thank God daily that He allowed us to remain here and 
did not send us farther away. Believe in the people, darling. 
The nation is strong, and young, and as soft as wax. Just now 
it is in bad hands, and darkness and anarchy reigns. But the 
King of Glory will come and will save, strengthen, and give 
wisdom to the people who are now deceived." 

For some reason the Empress seemed to feel that 
the Lenten season of 19 18 was destined to end in an 
Easter resurrection of the torn and distracted country. 
At least so her letters indicate. In a mood of fitful 
kindness and mercy the Bolshevist soldiers in au- 
thority In Tobolsk allowed their captives to go rather 
often to church and to Communion during this season, 
and the Empress was very happy In consequence. Her 
letters were full of prayers for the country, In which 
the whole family joined, and they appeared to look 
forward to Easter as the day when God would give 

"Western readers perhaps do not know how indispensable is vocal 


some token that the sins of the Russian people, for 
which they were suffering, were forgiven. Yet never 
once did she speak of regaining power or the throne. 
All that was over and forgotten. Neither the Em- 
peror nor the Empress ever indicated in any syllable 
that they expected to be returned to their former 
eminence. In fact they never spoke of what might 
actually happen to the Russian Empire, but they be- 
lieved that God would hold it together and restore 
its people to wisdom and strength. For themselves 
they seemed to look forward to nothing better than 
an obscure existence with other Russian people. How 
uncomplainingly they accepted the hard terms of their 
lives, how grateful they were for the love of distant 
friends whom they might never see again, is shown 
in all the last letters I received from the Empress dur- 
ing March, 191 8. After receiving one of our parcels 
of clothing she wrote me : 

We are endlessly touched by all your love and thoughtfulness. 
Thank everybody for us, please, but really it is too bad to spoil 
us so, for you are among so many difficulties and we have not 
many privations, I assure you. We have enough to eat, and in 
many respects are rich compared with you. The children put 
on yesterday your lovely blouses. The hats also are ver>' use- 
ful, as we have none of this sort. The pink jacket is far too 
pretty for an old woman like me, but the hat is all right for 
my gray hair. What a lot of things! The books I have already 
begun to read, and for all the rest such tender thanks. He was 
so pleased by the military suit, vest, and trousers you sent him, 

music in Russian church services where no organ is permitted. All 
priests are trained musicians, and there is much congregational 


and all the lovely things. From whom came the ancient image? 
I love it. 

Our last gifts to you, including the Easter eggs, will get off 
today. I can't get much here except a little flour. Just now 
we are completely shut off from the south, but we did get, a 
short time ago, letters from Odessa. What they have gone 
through there is quite terrible. Lili is alone in the country with 
her grandmother and our godchild, surrounded by the enemy. 
The big Princess Bariatinsky and Mme. Tolstoy were in prison 
in Yalta, the former merely because she took the part of the 
Tartars. Babia Apraxine with her mother and children live 
upstairs in their house, the lower floor being occupied by sol- 
diers. Grand Duchess Xenia with her husband, children, and 
mother are living in Diilburg. Olga Alexandrovna (the Em- 
peror's sister) lives in Haraks in a small house because if she 
had remained in Aitodor she would have had to pay for the 
house. What the Germans are doing ! Keeping order in the 
towns but taking everything. All the wheat is in their hands, 
and it is said that they take seed-corn, coal, former Russian 
soldiers — everything. The Germans are now in Bierki and in 
Charkoff, Poltava Government. Batoum is in the hands of 
the Turks. 

Sunbeam (Alexei) has been ill in bed for the past week. I 
don't know whether coughing brought on the attack, or whether 
he picked up something heavy, but he had an awful internal 
hemorrhage and suffered fearfully. He is better now, but sleeps 
badly and the pains, though less severe, have not entirely ceased. 
He is frightfully thin and yellow, reminding me of Spala. Do 
you remember? But yesterday he began to eat a little, and 
Dr. Derevanko is satisfied with his progress. The child has 
to lie on his back without moving, and he gets so tired. I sit all 
day beside him, holding his aching legs, and I have grown 
almost as thin as he. It is certain now that we shall celebrate 
Easter at home because it will be better for him if we have a 


service together. I try to hope that this attack will pass 
more quickly than usual. It must, since all Winter he was 
so well. 

I have not been outside the house for a week. I am no longer 
permitted to sit on the balcony, and I avoid going downstairs. 
I am sorry that your heart is bad again, but I can understand 
it. Be sure and let me know well in advance if you move again. 
Everj'one, we hear, has been sent away from Tsarskoe. Poor 
Tsarskoe, w^ho will take care of the rooms now? What do they 
mean when they speak of an "etat de siege" there? . . . 

Darling "Sister Seraphine": 

I want to talk to you again, knowing how anxious you will 
be for Sunbeam. The blood recedes quickly — that is why today 
he again had very severe pains. Yesterday for the first time 
he smiled and talked with us, even played cards, and slept two 
hours during the day. He is frightfully thin, with enormous 
eyes, just as at Spala. He likes to be read to, eats little — no 
appetite at all in fact. I am with him the whole day, Tatiana 
or Mr. Gilliard relieving me at intervals. Mr. Gilliard reads 
to him tirelessly, or warms his legs with the Fohn apparatus. 
Today it is snowing again but the snow melts rapidly, and it is 
very muddy. I have not been out for a week and a half, as I 
am so tired that I don't dare to risk the stairs. So I sit with 
Alexei. ... A great number of new troops have come from 
everywhere. A new Kommissar has arrived from Moscow, a 
man named Jakovleff, and today we shall have to make his 
acquaintance. It gets very hot in this town in Summer, is 
frightfully dusty, and at times very humid. We are begging to 
be transferred for the hot months to some convent. I know 
that you too are longing for fresh air, and I trust that by God's 
mere)' it may become possible for us all. 

They are always hinting to us that we shall have to travel 
either very far away, or to the center (of Siberia), but we hope 


that this will not happen, as it would be dreadful at this season. 
How nice it would be if your brother could settle himself in 
Odessa. We are quite cut off from the south, never hear from 
anybody. The little officer will tell you — he saw me apart 
from the others.^ I am so afraid that false rumors will reach 
your ears — people lie so frantically. Probably the little one's 
illness was reported as something different, as an excuse for 
our not being moved.^^ Well, all is God's will. The deeper 
you look the more you understand that this is so. All sorrows 
are sent us to free us from our sins or as a test of our faith, an 
example to others. It requires good food to make plants grow 
strong and beautiful, and the gardener walking through his 
garden wants to be pleased with his flowers. If they do not 
grow properly he takes his pruning knife and cuts, waiting for 
the sunshine to coax them into growth again. I should like to 
be a painter, and make a picture of this beautiful garden and 
all that grows in it. I remember English gardens, and at 
Livadia you saw an illustrated book I had of them, so you will 

Just now eleven men have passed on horseback, good faces, 
mere boys — this I have not seen the like of for a long time. 
They are the guard of the new Kommissar. Sometimes we see 
men with the most awful faces. I would not include them in 
my garden picture. The only place for them would be outside 
where the merciful sunshine could reach them and make 
them clean from all the dirt and evil with which they are 

God bless you, darling child. Our prayers and blessings sur- 
round you. I was so pleased with the little mauve Easter egg, 
and all the rest. But I wish I could send you back the money 
I know you need for yourself. May the Holy Virgin guard 
you from all danger. Kiss your dear mother for me. Greet- 

* By this the Empress meant that the secret messenger would give 
me particulars she dared not write in her letter. 
" To a convent as they desired. 


ings to your old servant, the doctors, and Fathers John and 
Dosifei. I have seen the new Kommissar, and he really hasn't 
a bad face. Today is Sacha's (Count Voronzelf, aide-de-camp) 

March 21. 

Darling child, we thank you for all your gifts, the little eggs, 
the cards, and the chocolate for the little one. Thank your 
mother for the books. Father was delighted with the cigarettes, 
which he found so good, and also with the sweets. Snow has 
fallen again, although the sunshine is bright. The little one's 
leg is gradually getting better, he suffers less, and had a really 
good sleep last night. Today we are expecting to be searched — 
very agreeable! I don't know how it will be later about send- 
ing letters. I only hope it will be possible, and I pray for help. 
The atmosphere around us is fairly electrified. We feel that a 
storm is approaching, but we know that God is merciful, and 
will care for us. Things are growing very anguishing. Today 
we shall have a small service at home, for which we are thank- 
ful, but it is hard, nevertheless, not to be allowed to go to 
church. You understand how that is, my little martyr. 

I shall not send this, as ordinarily, through , as she too 

is going to be searched. It was so nice of you to send her a 
dress. I add my thanks to hers. Today is the twenty-fourth 
anniversary of our engagement. How sad it is to remember 
that we had to burn all our letters, yours too, and others as 
dear.^^ But what was to be done? One must not attach one*s 
soul to earthly things, but words written by beloved hands pene- 
trate the ven- heart, become a part of life itself. 

I wish I had something sweet to send you, but I haven't any- 
thing. Why did you not keep that chocolate for yourself? 
You need it more than the children do. We are allowed one 

"All purely personal letters were burned in the palace at Tsarskoe 
Selo as soon as the news of the Emperor's abdication reached us, the 
Empress being determined that her most sacred possessions should 


and a half pounds of sugar every month, but more is always 
given us by kind-hearted people here. I never touch sugar 
during Lent, but that does not seem to be a deprivation now. 
I was so sorry to hear that my poor lancer Ossorgine had been 
killed, and so many others besides. What a lot of misery and 
useless sacrifice! But they are all happier now in the other 
world. Though we know that the storm is coming nearer and 
nearer, our souls are at peace. Whatever happens will be 
through God's will. Thank God, at least, the little one is 

May I send the money back to you? 1 am sure you will 
need it if you have to move again. God guard you. I bless 
and kiss you, and carry you always in my heart. Keep well and 
brave. Greetings to all from your ever loving, A. 

This letter, written near the end of March, 191 8, 
was the last I ever received written by her Majesty's 
own hand. A little later in the spring of that year 
she and the Emperor were hurriedly removed to 
Ekaterinaburg — the last place from which the world 
has received tidings of them. The children and most 
of the suite were left behind in Tobolsk, the poor little 
Alexel still 111 and suffering, and cruelly deprived of 
the solace of his mother's love and devotion. In May 
I received a brief letter from Grand Duchess Olga 
who with difficulty managed to get me news of her 
parents and the family. 

Darling, I take the first opportunity to write you the latest 

news we have had from ours in Ekaterinaburg. They wrote 

not be made public by the Provisional Government. She never recov- 
ered from the grief of destroying her youthful love letters, which 
were more to her than the most costly jewels she possessed, the richest 
of any sovereign in Europe. To me this is a singular revelation of 
the real character of the Empress. 


on the 23rd of April that the journey over the rough roads was 

terrible, but that in spite of great weariness they are well. They 

live in three rooms and eat the same food as the soldiers. The 

little one is better but is still in bed. As soon as he is well 

enough to be moved we shall join them. We have had letters 

from Zina but none from Lili. Have Alya and your brother 

written ? The weather has become milder, the ice is out of the 

river Irtish, but nothing is green yet. Darling, you must know 

how dreadful it all is. We kiss and embrace you. God bless 



After this short letter from Olga came a card from 
Ekaterinaburg written by one of the Empress's maids 
at her dictation. It contained a few loving words, and 
the news that they were recovering from the fatigue 
of their terrible journey. They were living in two 
rooms — probably, although this is not stated, under 
great privations. She hoped, but could not tell yet, 
that our correspondence could be continued. It never 
was. I had a card a little later from Mr. Gibbs say- 
ing that he and M. Gilliard had brought the children 
from Tobolsk to Ekaterinaburg and that the family 
was again united. The card was written from the 
train where he and M. Gilliard were living, not having 
been allowed to join the family in their stockaded 
house. Mr. Gibbs had an intuition that both of these 
devoted tutors were soon to be sent out of the country 
and such proved to be the case. This was my last news 
of my Empress and of my Sovereigns, best of all 
earthly friends. 

In July short paragraphs appeared in the Bolshevist 
newspapers saying that by order of the Soviet at 


Ekaterinaburg the Emperor had been shot but that 
the Empress and the children had been removed to 
a place of safety. The announcement horrified me, yet 
left me without any exact conviction of its truth. 
Soviet newspapers published what they were ordered 
to publish without any regard whatever to facts. Thus 
when a little later it was announced that the whole 
family had been murdered — executed, as they phrased 
it — imagine "executing" five perfectly innocent chil- 
dren ! — I could not make myself believe it. Yet little 
by little the public began to believe it, and it is certain 
that Nicholas II and his family have disappeared be- 
hind one of the world's greatest and most tragic 
mysteries. With them disappeared all of the suite and 
the servants who were permitted to accompany them 
to the house in Ekaterinaburg. My reason tells me 
that it is probable that they were all foully murdered, 
that they are dead and beyond the sorrows of this life 
forever. But reason is not always amenable. There 
are many of us in Russia and in exile who, knowing 
the vastness of the enormous empire, the remoteness of 
its communications with the outside world, know well 
the possibilities of imprisonment in monasteries, in 
mines, in deep forests from which no news can pene- 
trate. We hope. That is all I can say. It is said, 
although I have no firsthand information on the sub- 
ject, that the Empress Dowager has never believed that 
either of her sons was killed. The Soviet newspapers 
published accounts of the "execution" of Grand Duke 
Michail, and strong evidence has been presented that 
he was murdered in Siberia with others of the family, 
including the Grand Duchess Serge. These same news- 


papers, however, officially stated that Grand Duke 
Michail had been assisted to escape by English 

The most fantastic contradictions concerning all 
these alleged murders have from time to time cropped 
up. When I was in prison in the autumn of 19 19 a 
fellow prisoner of the Chekha, the wife of an aide-de- 
camp of Grand Duke Michail, told me positively that 
she had received a letter from the Emperor's brother, 
safe and well in England. 

Perhaps the strangest incident of the kind happened 
to me when I was hiding from the Chekha after my 
last imprisonment and my narrow escape from a 
Kronstadt firing squad. A woman unknown to me 
approached me and calling me by my name, which of 
course I did not acknowledge, showed me a photograph 
of a woman in nun's robes standing between two men, 
priests or monks. "This," she said mysteriously and 
in a whisper, "is one you know well. She sent it to 
you by my hands and asks you to write her a message 
that you are well, and also to give your address that 
she may write you a letter," 

I looked long at the photograph — a poor pnnt — 
and I could not deny to myself that there was some- 
thing of a likeness in the face, and especially in the 
long, delicate hands. But the Empress had always 
been slender, and after her ill health became almost 
emaciated. This woman was stout. I might, had I 
had the slightest assurance of safety, have taken the 
risk of writing my name and address for this stranger. 
But no one in Russia takes such risks. The net of the 
Chekha is too far flung. 


I have one word more to say about these letters of 
the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. I have trans- 
lated them as faithfully and as literally as possible, 
leavmg out absolutely nothing except a few messages 
of affection and some religious expressions which seem 
to me too intimate to make public, and which might 
appear exaggerated to western readers. I have in- 
cluded letters which may be thought trivial in subject, 
but I have done it purposely because I yearned to 
present the Empress as she was, simple, self-sacrificing, 
a devoted wife, mother, and friend, an intense patriot, 
deeply and consistently religious. She had her human 
faults and failings, as she freely admits. Some of 
these traits can be described, as the French express it, 
as "the faults of her quality." Thus her great love 
for her husband, which never ceased to be romantic 
and youthful, caused her at times cruel heart pangs. 
Because this has nothing to do with her life or her 
story I should not allude to the one cloud that ever 
came between us — jealousy. I should leave that pain- 
ful, fleeting episode alone, knowing that she would 
wish it forgotten, except that in certain letters which 
have been published she herself has spoken of it so 
bitterly that were I to omit mention of it entirely I 
might be accused of suppressing facts. 

I have, I think, spoken frankly of the preference of 
the Emperor for my society at times, in long walks, in 
tennis, in conversation. In the early part of 19 14 
the Empress was ill, very low-spirited, and full of 
morbid reflections. She was much alone, as the Em- 
peror was occupied many hours every day, and the 
children were busy with their lessons. In the Em- 


peror's leisure moments he developed a more than or-. 
dinary desire for my companionship, perhaps only be- 
cause I was an entirely healthy, normal woman, heart 
and soul devoted to the family, and one from whom 
it was never necessary to keep anything secret. We 
were much together in those days, and before either of 
us realized it the Empress became mortally jealous 
and suspicious of every movement of her husband and 
of myself. In letters written during this period, es- 
pecially from the Crimea during the spring of 19 14, 
the Empress said some very unkind and cruel things of 
me, or at least I should consider them cruel if they 
had not been rooted in illness, and in physical and 
mental misery. Of course the Court knew of the es- 
trangement between us, and I regret to say that there 
were many who delighted in it and did what they could 
to make it permanent. My only real friends were 
Count Fredericks, Minister of the Court, and his two 
daughters, who stood by me loyally and kept me in 

That this illusion of jealousy was entirely dissipated, 
that the Empress finally realized that my love and de- 
votion for her precluded any possibility of the things 
she feared, her letters to me from Siberia amply de- 
monstrate. Our friendship became more deeply 
cemented than before, and nothing but death can ever 
sever the bond between us. 

Other letters written by the Empress to her husband 
between 1914 and 1916 have within this past year 
found publication by a Russian firm in Berlin. Some 
of them have been reproduced in the London Times, 


and I have no doubt that they will also be published 
in America. These letters reveal the character of the 
Empress exactly as I knew her. It is balm to my 
bruised heart to read in the London Times that what- 
ever has been said of her betrayal, or attempted be- 
trayal of Russia during the war, must be abandoned as 
a legend without the least foundation. So must also be 
discarded accusations against her of any but spiritual 
relations with Rasputine. That she believed in him 
as a man sent of God is true, but that his influence on 
her, and through her on the Emperor's policies, had 
any political importance I must steadfastly deny. Both 
the Empress and Rasputine liked Protopopoff and 
trusted him. But that had nothing to do with his 
ministerial tenure. The Empress, and I think also 
Rasputine, disliked and distrusted Grand Duke Nicho- 
las. But that had nothing to do with his demission. 
In these affairs the Emperor made his own decisions, 
as I have stated. The strongest proof of what I have 
written will be found in the letters of the Empress, 
those she wrote to the Emperor, to her relations in 
Germany and England, and those included in this 
volume. Nothing contradictory, nothing inconsistent 
has ever been discovered, despite the efforts of the 
Empress's bitter enemies, the Provisional Govern- 
ment and the Bolshevists. Before all the world, before 
the historians of the future, Alexandra Feodorovna, 
Empress of Russia, stands absolved. 


TOWARDS the close of the summer of 191 8 life 
in Russia became almost indescribably chaotic 
and miserable. Most of the shops were closed, and 
only the few who could pay fantastic prices were able 
to buy food. There was a little bread, a very little 
butter, some meat, and a few farm products. Tea and 
coffee had completely disappeared, dried leaves taking 
their places, but even these substitutes were frightfully 
dear and very difficult to find. The trouble was that 
the Bolshevist authorities forbade the peasants to bring 
any food into Petrograd, and soldiers were kept on 
guard at the railway stations to confiscate any stocks 
that tried to run the blockade. Frequently the market 
stalls were raided, and what food was there was seized, 
and the merchants arrested. Food smuggling went on 
on a fairly large scale, and if one had money he could 
at least avoid starvation. Most people of our class 
lived by selling, one by one, jewels, furs, pictures, art 
objects, an enterprising class of Jewish dealers hav- 
ing sprung up as by magic to take advantage of the 
opportunity. There was also a new kind of mer- 
chant class, people of the intelligentsia, who knew the 
value of lace, furs, old china and embroideries, who 
dealt with us with more courtesy and rather less 
avarice than the Jews. 

My mother and I fell into dire poverty. A home 



we had, and even a few valuable jewels, but we clung 
to everything we had as shipwrecked sailors to their 
life belts. We could not look far ahead, and we viewed 
complete bankruptcy with fear and dread. I recall one 
bitter day in that summer sitting down on a park bench 
weary and desolate as any pauper, for I had not in 
my pocket money enough to go home in a tram. I 
do not remember how I got home, but I remember 
that in that dark hour a former banker whom we had 
long known called at our lodgings and told us that he 
had a little money which he was about to smuggle to 
the Imperial Family in Siberia. He wanted us to ac- 
cept twenty thousand rubles of this for our immediate 
needs, and gladly we did accept it. Very soon after- 
wards the banker suddenly and mysteriously dis- 
appeared, and his fate remains to this day a profound 
mystery. I do not even know if he succeeded in get- 
ting the money to Siberia. However, with the hope 
he inspired in me I began to think of possible resources 
which I might turn to account. My hospital in Tsar- 
skoe Selo had been closed by the Bolsheviki, but its 
expensive equipment of furniture, instruments, horses 
and carriages still remained, and I employed a lawyer 
to go over the books and to estimate what money I 
could realize from a sale of the whole property. To 
my dismay I learned that the place with everything 
in it had been seized by my director and head nurse 
who, under the Bolshevist policy of confiscation, 
claimed all, ostensibly as state property but really as 
their own, for they had become ardent Bolshevists. I 
made a personal appeal to these old employees of mine 
to let me have at least one cow for my mother who, be- 


ing very frail, needed milk. They simply laughed at 
me. My lawyer took steps to protect my rights, and 
the result of this rash action was that the former 
director denounced me to the Chekha as a counter- 
Revolutionist, and in the middle of an October night 
our home was invaded by armed men who arrested 
me and my nursing sister, and looted our rooms of 
everything that caught their fancy. Among other 
things they took was a letter from the Emperor to my 
father explaining the conditions which led him to as- 
sume supreme command of the army. This letter, 
treasured by me, seemed to them somehow very 

Driven ahead of the soldiers, I went downstairs and 
climbed into a motor truck which conveyed us to the 
headquarters of the Chekha in Gorohvaia Street. 
After my name had been taken by a slovenly official 
I followed the guard to one of two large rooms which 
formed the women's ward of the prison. There must 
have been close to two hundred women crowded in 
these rooms. They slept sometimes three to a narrow 
bed, they lay on the tables and even on the bare floor. 
The air of the place was, of course, utterly foul, for 
many of the women were of the class that never washes. 
Some were of gentle birth and breeding, accused of no 
particular offense, but held, according to Bolshevist 
custom, as hostages and possible witnesses for others 
who were under examination or who were wanted and 
could not be found. In the early morning all the 
prisoners got up from their narrow beds or the hard 
floor and made their way under soldier escort to a 
toilet where they washed their faces and hands. As 


I sat miserably on the edge of my bed a woman came 
up to me introducing herself as Mile. Shoulgine, the 
oldest inhabitant of the place, and therefore a kind 
of a monitor. It was her business, she said, to see 
that each prisoner received food and to handle any 
letters or petitions the women might desire to send 
out. I told her that I desired to send a petition to 
the head of the Chekha, or to whatever committee 
was in charge of the prison, asking the nature of the 
charges against me, and begging for an early trial. 
This petition was duly dispatched, and very soon after 
a very large man, a Jew, came to see me and prom- 
ised that my affair would be promptly investigated. 
The soldiers on guard spoke to me kindly and offered, 
if I had money, to carry letters back and forth from 
my home. I gave them money and was comforted to 
hear from my mother that Dr. Manouchine was once 
more working for my release. Although not a Bol- 
shevist, the doctor's skill was greatly respected by the 
Communists, who had appointed him head physician 
of the old Detention House. There was a student 
doctor attached to our prison, and merely because 
he was a friend of Dr. Manouchine and knew that I 
was also, he was courteous and attentive to me. So 
potent is the influence of a truly great character. 

The five days I spent in that filthy, crowded cell 
will never leave my memory. Every moment was a 
nightmare. Twice a day they served us with bowls 
of so-called soup, hot water with a little grease and 
a few wilted vegetables. This with small pieces of 
sour black bread was all the food vouchsafed us. 
Some of the prisoners got additional food from out- 


side, and usually these fortunate ones divided what 
they had with the others. There was one beautiful 
woman of the half-world who daily received from 
some source ample food, and like most of the women 
of her class she was generous. I was told that she 
had been arrested because she had hidden and helped 
her lover, a White officer, to escape, and that she 
felt proud to be suffering for his sake. Perhaps 
it was from friends of his that she received the 
food, yet women of her kind, God knows, very 
seldom meet with gratitude even from those who owe 
it most. 

Although I was accused of no crime and had no 
idea what accusations could be brought against me, 
I lived as all the others lived, in a state of constant 
anxiety and fear. All day and all night we heard the 
sound of motors and of motor horns, we saw prison- 
ers brought in, and from our windows we could see 
great quantities of loot which the Bolshevist soldiers 
had collected, silver, pictures, rich wearing apparel, 
everything that appealed to them as valuable. In 
the courtyard we could see the men fighting like 
wolves over their spoils. It was like living in a 
pirates' den rather than a prison, and yet we were 
often enough reminded that we were prisoners. One 
day all the women in my room were roughly ordered 
into a larger room literally heaped with archives of 
the Imperial Government. With soldiers standing 
over us we set to work like charwomen to sort the 
papers and tie them up in neat bundles. Very often 
in the night when we were sleeping exhausted in our 
cell rooms the electric lights would suddenly be turned 


on, guards would call out names, and half a dozen 
frightened women would get up, gather their rags 
about them, and go out. Some returned, some dis- 
appeared. No one knew whose turn would come next 
or what her fate would be. 

The name of my nursing sister was called before 
mine, and within a short time she returned smiling to 
say that she was to be sent home at once and that I 
should soon follow. Two hours later soldiers ap- 
peared at the grating and one called out my surname: 
"Tanieva, to Viborg Prison." I had spirit enough 
to demand the papers consigning me to this dread 
women's prison, but the soldiers merely pushed me 
back with the butts of their guns and bade me lose 
no time in obeying orders. I still had a little money 
with which I paid for a cab instead of walking the 
long distance to the prison, and I begged the soldiers 
to stop on the way and let me see my mother. For 
this privilege I offered all the money remaining in my 
purse, which the soldiers took, also bargaining for the 
ring I wore on my hand. This I declined to give so 
they philosophically said: "Oh, well, why not?" And 
stopped the cab at the door of my mother's lodgings. 
Of course my poor mother was overjoyed to see me, 
even for a moment, and so was old Berchik, now al- 
most at the end of his life. Both assured me that 
everything was being done in my behalf and that at 
the Viborg prison I would be in less danger of death 
than at the Chekha headquarters. I might even hope 
to be admitted to the prison hospital. 

A little heartened in spite of myself I went on to 
Viborg, which lies in a far quarter of the town on 


what is known as the Viborg side of the Neva. A 
rather pretty Bolshevist girl was in charge of the 
receiving office, and when I pleaded ill health and 
asked to be sent to the hospital she promised to see 
what could be done. Viborg prison was one of many 
which during the first frenzied days of the Revolution 
were thrown open, the prisoners released, and the 
wardresses murdered. I do not know how other 
women were induced to take their places, but I do 
know that the women in whose charge I was placed 
were so kind and considerate that had any attempt 
been made against them the prisoners themselves would 
have fought in their defense. The wardress who 
locked me in my cell stopped to say a comforting 
word, and because she saw that I was shivering with 
cold as well as nervousness, she brought me bread 
and a little hot soup. 

After some hours I had another visitor. Princess 
Kakouatoff, accused of being the ringleader of an 
anti-Bolshevist plot, who had been six months in 
Viborg and was regarded as a "trusty." Among other 
privileges she had the right to telephone friends of 
new prisoners, and at my request she telephoned mes- 
sages to friends who could be of use to my mother if 
not to me. The princess brought me a little portion 
of fish which I ate hungrily, and I think she was 
also instrumental in finally getting me into the prison 
hospital. This was after I had fainted on the floor 
of my cell, and everyone in authority, including the 
prison doctor, knew that I was in no condition to 
endure the noisy confusion of the huge cell house. The 
hospital was a little cleaner than the rest of the 


prison, but it was a pretty dreadful place just the 
same. For nurses we had good-conduct prisoners, 
women of low type who stole food and everything 
else they could lay hands on. They stripped me of my 
clothes, substituting the prison chemise and blue dress- 
ing gown, and took away all my hairpins. I was given 
a bed in a room with six other women, one of them 
a particularly awful syphilis case, and two others, very 
dirty, who spent most of their time going over each 
other's heads for vermin. I stayed in this ghastly 
place a very short time, a woman doctor and a prisoner 
of my own class. Baroness Rosen, succeeding in get- 
ting me transferred to a better ward. Nevertheless 
the whole prison hospital was horrible. The trusties 
in charge of the wards were in the habit of eating the 
meat out of the prisoners' bowls, and fighting for food 
among prisoners throughout the institution was a 
daily occurrence. I can describe Viborg prison and 
most of its inmates in one word — beastly. Many of 
the women were syphilitic, most were verminous, 
some were half mad. One who slept near me had 
murdered her husband and burned his body. Nearly 
all sang the most obscene songs and held unrepeatable 
conversations. Mostly they were so depraved that 
the doctor in his rounds showed that he was afraid 
of them. Yet there were among them a few women 
who, like myself, had led sheltered and religious lives, 
and who were only now learning that such abandoned 
specimens of womanhood existed on the earth. There 
was no attempt at reforming the women. Once there 
had been a church attached to the prison, but this 
the BolshevikI had closed, substituting a cinema to 


which on special occasions some of the prisoners were 
admitted. Not many political prisoners had this 
privilege because they were treated much more rigor- 
ously than common criminals. It was the common 
criminals also, the thieves, murderers, prostitutes, 
who were released in advance of "counter-Revolution- 
ists," those accused, however vaguely, of political 

All the prisons of Petrograd by this time were so 
crowded with so-called political prisoners that even 
the women's prison was obliged to receive an over- 
flow of sick men prisoners. This wholesale imprison- 
ment of anti-Bolshevists naturally led to the shooting 
of thousands of citizens, shooting being simpler than 
feeding and housing, and in addition an economy of 
effort on the part of those charged with the mockery 
of trials. Later the Chekha dispensed with this 
mockery, but in those days prisoners were given the 
pretense of a hearing. I can testify to their futility, 
because I went through more than half a dozen trials 
and in no case was I accused of any crime, tried for 
any definite offense, or given anything like a fair hear- 
ing. On September lO, 191 8, word was brought to 
the VIborg prison that on the next morning I was to 
be taken away not to return. This seemed to be a 
death sentence, and all that night I lay awake think- 
ing of my poor mother and wondering what would be- 
come of her alone in the midst of the Bolshevist in- 
ferno. Silently and long I prayed for her and for the 
peaceful release of my own tried soul. 

Very early in the morning I was summoned, my own 
clothes were given me, and I was led to the receiving 


office of the prison. Here two soldiers waited, and I 
was taken out between them and marched to the head- 
quarters of the Chekha. In a small, dirty room I 
underwent an examination by two Jewish Communists, 
one of whom, Vladimirov — nearly all Jewish Com- 
munists assume Russian names — being prominent in 
the councils of the Communist central committee. For 
fully an hour these men did everything they could to 
terrorize me. They accused me of being a spy, of 
plotting against the Chekha, of being a dangerous 
counter-Revolutionist. They told me that I was to 
be shot at once and that they intended to shoot all 
the intellectuals and the "Bourju," leaving the pro- 
letariat in full possession of Russia. They continued 
this bluster until from sheer weariness they stopped, 
then one of the men leaned his elbows on the table and 
with a smile that was meant to be ingratiating said 
confidentially: "I tell you what. You relate the true 
story of Rasputine and perhaps we won't have you 
shot, at least not today." I assured the man that I 
knew no more about Rasputine than they did, perhaps 
not as much, since I had no access to police records 
and they had. Then they wanted to know all about 
the Czar and the life of the Court. As well as I could 
I satisfied their curiosity, which was that of ignorant 
children, and at the end of an exhausting interroga- 
tion they actually sent me, not to a wall and a firing 
squad, but back to the filthy cell in the Viborg prison. 
I dropped on my dirty bed, swallowed a little food 
brought me by a sympathetic fellow prisoner, and 
resigned myself for what next might happen to me. 
What happened was astonishing. A soldier came to 


the door and called out: "Tanieva, with your things 
to go home." 

Within a short time I stood trembling and weak on 
the pavement in front of the prison. I could not have 
walked to my lodgings, in fact I felt incapable of 
walking at all, but a strange woman observing me and 
my piteous condition approached, put her arm around 
me, and helped me into a drosky. I had a little money, 
perhaps fifty rubles, and I gave it all to the ischvostik 
to drive me home. Here I found an amazing state 
of affairs, the general immorality and demoralization 
into which Bolshevism was driving the people having 
penetrated our own place. Everyone was turning 
thief, and my nursing sister, who had been with me 
since 1905, whom my mother had treated like a 
daughter, had become inoculated with the virus of 
evil. The woman had not only appropriated almost 
all the clothes I possessed, but had stolen all the 
trinkets and bits of jewelry she could lay hands on. 
She had even taken the carpets from the floors and 
stored them in her room. Not daring to attempt to 
regain any of this property I asked the nurse to please 
take what she wanted and leave the apartment. "Not 
at all," she replied, "This place suits me very well 
and as long as I choose I shall remain." She had em- 
braced Bolshevism, not I am sure from principle, but 
as the safest policy, and in time she became rich in 
jewels, finery, and miscellaneous loot. It was months 
before we finally induced her to leave, and after her 
departure I have reason to believe that she did every- 
thing she could to keep me in trouble with the 


By this time the Communist regime was fully 
organized. The whole town was divided into dis- 
tricts, each one under command of a group of soldiers 
who had full license to search — and rob — houses, and 
to make arrests. Every night the search went on. 
At seven o'clock all electric lights were turned off, and 
when, two or three hours later, they suddenly 
flashed up again, every soul in the district was seized 
with fear, knowing that this was the signal for the 
invasion. Often women were included in the search- 
ing parties, terrible women dressed in silks and strung 
with jewelry, stolen of course from the hated 
"Bourju." Seven times our home was raided, once on 
the authority of an anonymous letter charging that 
we were in possession of firearms. Once more I was 
dragged off to an interminable examination, this time 
before the staff of the Red Army in a house in Gogol 
Street. The close connection between the Chekha and 
the Red Army was apparent because in the two hours 
during which I sat in the ante-chamber waiting exami- 
nation a Lettish official of the Chekha passed freely 
in and out of the committee room, occasionally throw- 
ing me a reassuring word. My case would be settled 
favorably, he said, and it was, for the committee after 
bullying me for a length of time, dropped the subject 
of concealed firearms, assumed the snobbish and half 
cringing air with which I was becoming familiar to 
the point of nausea, and began asking questions about 
the Imperial household. They produced a large 
album of photographs and made me go through it 
and identify each picture. Finally the head inquisitor 
told me magnanimously that I could go home, cleared 


by the highest authority, but that soldiers would go 
with me and make sure that there were no revolvers 
or pistols in the house. The search was made anew, 
and then the men left, obviously disappointed that 
practically nothing worth stealing had come to light. 

Two things of importance were happening in those 
days. The White Army was approaching Petrograd, 
and in all the streets soldiers were drilling in anticipa- 
tion of a battle. Airplanes whirred overhead, and 
once in so often a shell screamed over the housetops. 
We prayed for the coming of the White Army, and 
at the same time dreaded the massacres we knew 
would precede its entry into the town. The second 
thing that marked this date was the Communist sys- 
tem of public feeding, free food being furnished by 
cards distributed according to the status of the indi- 
vidual. The Bolshevist authorities and the soldiers 
of course had the most food and the best. Next 
came the proletariat, so-called, and last of all the 
"Bourju" was provided for. These of the lowest 
strata in society got hardly anything at all and would 
have starved, most of them, had it not been for the 
food smuggling which constantly went on, the peas- 
ants from out of town boldly bringing in bulky parcels, 
and taking back in return for their food, not Bolshe- 
vist money, which they disdained, but everything they 
could accumulate in the way of furniture or dress ma- 
terials. They even accepted window curtains and 
table linen, anything, in fact, that could be fashioned 
Into clothing. These same peasants before the 
Revolution had been expert spinners and weavers, but 
now they scorned such plebeian occupations because it 


was easier to barter grains, milk, vegetables, and 
other produce for the last possessions of the towns- 

We went on living, somehow, parting with clothing 
and furniture, burning boxes and even chairs for fuel, 
walking miles for stray bits of wood, praying for the 
success of the White forces, praying for protection 
against what must happen before that success could 
be achieved. My mother all these days was very ill 
with dysentery, which was rife in Petrograd, and I 
had that additional suffering, for I knew that it would 
take little to bring her frail life to an end. 


ON September 22 (October 6, New Style) I went 
In the evening to a lecture in a church. At that 
time every non-Bolshevist spent as many hours every 
day as possible in the churches, praying or listening to 
words of hope and comfort from the priests. The 
church was, in fact, the only lome of peace and rest 
in the whole of the distracted country. That particu- 
lar night in church I met some old friends who invited 
me to go home with them ra\ ler than walk, the long 
and dreary, even the dangeroii way back to my lodg- 
ings. I stayed with my friends that night, and the next 
morning early I went to mass in the little church where 
Father John of Kronstadt lies buried. I reached home 
about midday, and found the place in the possession of 
soldiers, two of whom had waited the entire night to 
arrest me, this time as a hostage, the White Army 
being reported within a few miles of Petrograd. My 
sick mother prepared me a little food, made a parcel 
of my scanty linen, and once more we bade each other 
the despairing farewell of two who knew that they 
might never meet again on earth. I was quickly con- 
veyed to the headquarters of the Chekha where I was 
greeted with the exultant welcome: "Aha! Here we 
have the bird who has dared to stay out a whole night." 
Thrust into the old filthy, ill-smelling cell room I 
found a spot near a dirty window from which I could 



get a far glimpse of the golden dome of St. Isaac's 
Cathedral. During my whole term in this place I 
kept my eyes and my whole mind on that golden dome, 
trying to forget the hell that whirled around me. The 
woman in charge of the room was a Finnish girl who 
had committed the crime of trying to run away to 
Finland. She was a stenographer and clerk, and the 
Chekha used her by night as an office assistant. 
Whether by nature or by association she had become 
as hard and as ruthless as her captors, and her im- 
prisonment had many mitigations. It was her pleasant 
duty to make out the lists of those who, twice a week, 
were taken to Kronstadt to be shot, and her reports 
on the subject which she confided regularly to her 
chosen comrade, a Georgian dancer named Menabde, 
were enough to sicken even those of us who had become 
accustomed to wholesale slaughter of unoffending 
human beings. We heard little else except death and 
threats of death in this place. There was an official 
named Boze in the prison, and often we heard him 
screeching through the telephone to his wife that he 
would be late to dinner that night because he had a 
load of "game" to get off to Kronstadt. Under such 
conditions pity and sympathy become strangely dulled. 
On occasions when I was sent to the kitchens for hot 
water I used to get glimpses of the "game," huddled 
wretchedly in their seats or restlessly pacing their cells 
— waiting. Often when I returned with the water I 
found the seats and the cells empty, and although my 
heart sank and my senses swam, I never felt the scream- 
ing horror a normal person would have felt. This 
dulling of the emotions, I suppose, is nature's way of 


keeping the mind from giving way entirely. Of course 
nature took away all human dignity and self-respect, 
this, too, In mercy. Any prisoner who went to the 
kitchens was greeted with jeers and foul abuse from 
the cooks who threw us handfuls of potato parings 
and withered cabbage leaves, quite as one would throw 
bones to dogs. Like dogs we eagerly snatched at 
these leavings, because the prisoners' regular rations 
were nothing half as palatable, being mostly wormy 
dried fish and a disgusting substitute for bread. 

One day I was called up for examination, and this 
time a real surprise awaited me. My judge was an 
Esthonian named Otto, not altogether a brutal man, 
as it turned out. As I approached his desk he regarded 
me grimly and without a word handed me a letter, un- 
signed, and reading about as follows: "To the Lady 
In Waiting, Anna Viroubova. You are the only one 
who can save us from this terrible Bolshevik admin- 
istration, as you are at the head of a great organiza- 
tion fully equipped with guns and ammunition." 
Sternly the Esthonian judge commanded me to tell 
him the truth about the organization of which I was 
the head. Of course I told him that the whole thing 
was an Invention, and he astonished me by saying that 
although the letter had been posted to my address he 
had very much doubted Its verity. Then he asked, 
almost gently: "Are you very hungry?" Taken off 
my guard as much by the kindness as by the prospect 
of food, I fell against the desk murmuring only half 
aloud: "Hungry? Yes, oh, yes." Whereupon he 
opened a drawer of his desk and handed me a large 
piece of fresh, sweet bread. "Go now," he said, "and 


I will discuss your case with my colleague Vikman. In 
the evening we will see you again." 

At eleven that night I was again summoned, this 
time before the two men. The Esthonian, still kind 
and courteous, gave me a glass of steaming tea, which 
did much to lend me courage. Both he and Vikman 
then put me through a searching examination especially 
about my relations, real and assumed, with the Im- 
perial Family and with persons of the Court. At three 
in the morning they released me, more dead than alive 
with fatigue. Otto telling me heartily that he thought 
I would be set free within a few days. Vikman, how- 
ever, declared that my case would have to be referred 
to Moscow and that I need not expect an early release. 
I went back to my evil cage expecting nothing. I knew, 
that the threat of the White Army advance filled with 
terror the whole Bolshevist population, and that in 
case of actual battle no life outside the slim Communist 
ranks would be worth the smallest scrap of their worth- 
less paper money. 

Very shortly after my return to the cell room I be- 
gan to hear my name whispered from one wretched 
woman to another, and I accepted this without much 
emotion as a prelude to a boat journey to Kronstadt. 
Early on a certain morning a soldier approached the 
door and bawled out: "Tanieva, you to Moscow." I 
happened to be exceedingly ill that day, but me- 
chanically I picked up my little handkerchief contain- 
ing my few possessions, including a Bible, and followed 
the escort of two soldiers down the steep steps, as I 
believed, to my death. Perhaps they had orders to 
take me to Kronstadt, I cannot be sure of that, but I 


do know that the route we followed did not lead to 
the Moscow station. We had walked but a short dis- 
tance when one of the soldiers said to the other: 
"What's the good of two of us bothering with one 
lame woman? Til take care of her and you can go 
along. It will soon be over anyway," Nothing loath 
the other soldier, glad to get out of anything resem- 
bling work, took himself off while I, in charge of one 
armed man, mounted the crowded tram and rode on 
toward an unknown destination. At a certain point we 
had to change trams, and here occurred an incident so 
extraordinary that I almost hesitate to strain the 
credulity of a non-Russian reader by relating it. The 
second tram had been delayed for some reason, and 
a considerable crowd of passengers was waiting for 
it on the street corner. My soldier stood at my side 
waiting with the rest, but soon he became impatient. 
Ordering me not to move an inch in his absence, he ran 
down the street a short distance to see if the tram 
were in sight. As soon as he turned his back, people 
In the crowd began to speak to me. A girl in whom 
I recognized a former acquaintance asked me where I 
was going, and when I told her she took a bracelet I 
gave her and promised to carry It, with news of my 
fate, to my poor mother. An officer of the old army 
came up to me saying: "Are you not Anna 
Alexandrovna?" And when I said yes, he too asked 
me where I was being taken. "Kronstadt, I think," I 
answered, but he said: "Who knows?" and pressed 
into my hands a roll of bills saying that they might be 
of use to me. 

Other people surrounded me, mostly strangers, but 


two of them women whom I had often seen at mass 
in the small church of Father John. They said: 
"Why should you be shot? The soldier has not come 
back. Run while the chance is yours. Father John 
will surely help you." Encouraged by their sympathy, 
yet hardly knowing what I was doing, I limped off 
on my crutch much faster than I could have believed 
possible, the whole street-corner crowd spreading out 
to shield my flight. I limped and stumbled down 
Michel Street as far as the Nevski Prospekt weeping 
and praying all the time: "God save me! God save 
me!" until I reached the old shopping arcade known 
as the Gostiny Dvor. Here I caught sight of my 
soldier running in frantic pursuit of his escaped 
prisoner. It seemed all over with me then but I 
crouched in a corner of the deserted building and 
miraculously the soldier ran on without seeing me. 
As soon as I thought it at all safe I crept out of the 
old arcade and turned into the Zagorodny Prospekt, 
where I found a solitary cab. "Take me quickly," I 
cried to the ischvostik. "My mother is dying." The 
man replied indifferently that he had a fare waiting, 
but I thrust into his hands the entire roll of bills given 
me by the friendly officer, at the same time climbing 
into the drosky. 

Said the ischvostik, "Where shall I drive you?" I 
gasped out the address of a friend in the suburbs of 
the city, and the man lashed his half-starved animal 
into a walk. After what seemed to me many hours we 
reached the place, I rang the doorbell and fell across 
the threshold in a dead faint. 

My friend and her husband courageously took me 


in, fed, warmed me, and put me to bed. They even 
dared to send word to my mother that I was for the 
moment safe from pursuit, but they warned her not 
to come near the house as soldiers would certainly be 
watching her every movement. As a matter of fact 
my mother was visited by Red soldiers, arrested in her 
bed, and closely guarded for three weeks. Our maid 
also was arrested, as was everyone who came to the 
house. The old Berchick who had spent almost his 
entire lifetime in the service of our family was taken 
ill during this period and died. For five days his body 
lay uncoffined in the house, the Bolshevist authorities 
refusing him a burial permit. It was for my mother 
an interval of utter despair, since in addition to the 
death of Berchick she lived in constant fear of my re- 
arrest. In the opinion of the Bolshevist soldiers, how- 
ever, I had escaped to the White Army, and photo- 
graphs of me were posted conspicuously in all the rail- 
way stations. 

The kind friends who had taken me in dared not 
for their lives keep me long, and wishing them nothing 
of harm I set out on a dark night without a kopeck 
in my pockets and with no certain idea where I could 
find a bed. I had in mind a religious hostel, a place 
where a few students, men and women, lived under the 
chaperonage of an old nun. There I went, begging 
them for Christ's sake to take me in, and there I was 
hidden for five perilous days. A girl student volun- 
teered to go to see my mother, and go she did, but 
when hours passed, a day passed, and she did not re- 
turn, a panic of fear seized all of us, and rather than 
expose these kind people to risk of imprisonment and 


death I voluntarily left the place. What else could 
I do? 

How shall I describe the horrors of the next few 
months? Like a hunted animal I crept from one 
shelter to another, always leaving when it seemed at 
all possible that my protectors might be punished for 
their charity. Four nights I spent in the cell of an 
old nun whom I knew, but pitying her fears I put on 
the black head kerchief of a peasant woman and 
started in a cab, on borrowed money, for the house of 
a friend near the Alexandra Lavra on the outskirts of 
the town. All unknown to me a decree had that day 
been issued that no one could ride in a cab without 
written permission from the authorities. Consequently 
before we had traveled half the journey the cab was 
stopped by two women police, fierce creatures armed 
with rifles, who called out to the ischvostik: "Halt! 
We arrest you and your passenger." Hastily I 
crammed all the money I had into the ischvostik's hand 
and begged the women to let me go as I had just been 
discharged from hospital and knew nothing of the 
new rule. Oddly enough they let us drive on, but very 
soon the ischvostik, sick with terror, stopped his horse 
and told me that he would take me no further. I got 
out and staggered on through the muddy snow, for it 
was now late in the autumn of 19 19. A former officer 
whom I had once known well met and recognizing me 
asked if he might not accompany me to my destina- 
tion. "No, no," I cried. "It would be madness for 
you to be seen with me. I cannot explain, only go, 
go, as fast as you can." I staggered on, dripping with 
rain until I reached my friend's house. To my now 


customary greeting: "I am running away. Will you 
hide me?" she replied: "Come in. I have two 
others." Thus did brave Russians in those days risk 
their lives to save those of others. Under her pro- 
tection I lived ten days, and in her house I met a 
woman, a servant in one of the Communist kitchens, 
who having access to food and supplies, afterwards 
more than once saved me from starvation. 

From one such kindly haven to another I fled in the 
dead of night. Once I was received in the home of an 
English woman who out of her scanty stores gave me 
warm stockings, gloves, and a sweater. Another day 
or two I spent in the rooms of a dressmaker whose hus- 
band was an unwilling soldier in the Red Army. 
Once I ventured back to the student hostel, where they 
welcomed me and fed me well, one of their number 
having just returned from the country with a stock 
of smuggled food. Here I had news from my dear 
mother from the girl who had gone to her on my be- 
half, and had, after ten days' detention by the Chekha, 
got back to the hostel. Some members of the Chekha, 
she Informed me, looked forward to shooting me in- 
stantly when I was caught, but others said that it was 
certain that I was with the White Army and would 
never be caught. 

From the hostel I sought a paid lodging with the 
family of a former member of the orchestra of the Im- 
perial Theater. These people, however, were very 
mercenary and would receive me only on advance pay- 
ment of a large sum of money. Almost everything my 
mother and I had owned had been sold long before, 
but I retained a pendant of aquamarines and diamonds, 


a wedding present from the Empress, safely hidden in 
the house of a friend. This I had sold for fifty 
thousand rubles, giving half the money to the 
musician's wife in return for a few days' shelter in a 
wretchedly dirty, unheated room. Here I had to cut 
my hair short to get rid of vermin, and feeling unable 
to endure the hole I left it. Yet finding my next lodg- 
ings even worse, I returned, and here in the midst of 
discomfort and bitter cold, I had the joy of meeting 
my mother and also my aunt Lashkeroff, who brought 
me the welcome news that they thought they had at 
last found me a permanently safe retreat. It was miles 
from where I was staying, and I had to walk every 
step of the way, but when I arrived I found my hostess 
a lovely woman belonging to the Salvation Army. 
Gladly would I have stayed with her indefinitely but 
that was impossible as I had no passport and the police 
began to haunt the neighborhood. She did not 
abandon me for all that, but got me a new shelter in 
the home of a good priest and his wife. From here I 
was handed on from one to another of the priest's 
parishioners to whom he confided the story of my har- 
ried career. Once an Esthonian told me that 
her sister had found a Finnish woman who, for a good 
price, was willing to take fugitives over the frontier, 
and she strongly advised me to attempt the flight. 
Some instinct forbade, and it turned out a good instinct, 
for the Finnish woman, after taking the money, had 
abandoned the Esthonian's poor s'ster in the midst of 
a wood, from which she had to return, empty of purse 
and in deadly peril of arrest. 

Cutting the story of my fugitive existence short, I 


finally found something like a permanent abode in 
the tiny and happily obscure woodland cottage of a 
working engineer, who kindly offered to take me in 
to his bachelor quarters a mile or two outside of Petro- 
grad. Here I became once more the happy possessor 
of a passport, true not in my own name but perfectly 
legal otherwise. In Russia when a girl marries she 
gives up her passport to the priest, receiving a new 
one in the name of her husband. My kind old priest 
gave one of these maiden passports to the engineer, 
at the same time reporting to the Commissar of his 
neighborhood that such a passport had been lost. This 
was to prevent any possible trouble or inquiry. The 
Commissar obligingly gave the priest a duplicate, 
signed and sealed by Bolshevist authority. Now again 
I was a human being, for no one in Russia can be said 
to have any identity unless he is in possession of a 
passport. Mine described me as a teacher, and as such 
I was henceforth entitled to the Communist rations. 
For the time being I was less a teacher than an un- 
skilled household servant, for naturally I wanted to do 
everything possible to repay the good engineer for af- 
fording me a safe shelter. I knew nothing whatever 
of cooking or housework, yet I attempted to do both. 
The engineer himself was absent all day, but when he 
returned at night he carried in wood enough to last 
twenty-four hours, and also water which had to be 
brought from a great distance. Food, of course, was 
very scarce. My mother and the friendly priest 
brought all they could, but even so I would often have 
suffered had it not been for my old acquaintance, the 
woman who worked in the Communist kitchen. And 


here I have to tell another incident which may seem 
impossible to some readers. One day I was sitting 
in the little house in the wood, feeling as secure as an 
escaped prisoner can feel, when I heard a sudden loud 
knocking at the door. There was no possible place 
where I could hide, but I sat absolutely still in my 
chair, hardly breathing for fear of disclosing the fact 
that the house was not empty. Again came the knock- 
ing at the door, this time louder and more peremptory 
than before. Realizing that it was useless to resist, 
I arose and with a prayer on my lips, I went to the door 
and opened it. No one was there. Nothing was in 
sight save the wintry trees and the frozen path that led 
to the highway. But yes! There almost at the end 
of the path stood the shivering figure of a little girl, 
the daughter of the woman in the Communist kitchen. 

"Oh !" she cried, seeing me in the doorway. "I 
have been looking everywhere for your house and I 
could not find it." 

"But you knocked," I said. 

"No, I didn't," declared the child. "I haven't been 
near the house. I just this minute turned into the 
pathway to get out of the wind. I'm so glad I've 
found you. Mother has sent you something." 

Who knocked at my door twice? The wind? It 
never did before or afterwards. If you believe in 
Providence, as I do, you may agree with me that God 
did not intend me at that time to starve in the depths 
of a desolate forest. If you prefer another explana- 
tion seek it. 

In January, 1920, my kind friend the engineer told 
me reluctantly that he was about to marry and that 


the tiny room I occupied would have to be given up. 
I had not the remotest idea where I was to go. Above 
all things I desired to embrace a religious life, but in 
those perilous days no convent in Petrograd dared 
receive me. The convents were constantly being 
raided, and the younger nuns were frequently taken 
out and forced to work on the streets. No religious 
house could shelter a fugitive even though she pos- 
sessed a false passport. Again I became a vagrant, 
spending a night here, a day there, sleeping in any 
refuge that opened to me. Towards the end of March 
I again found a home in the house of a priest and his 
wife who were as parents to me, and to whom I owe 
a lifetime of gratitude. Here I found not only safety 
but work, that blessed anodyne against all trouble. 
My passport, as I have said, described me as a teacher, 
and a teacher I now became, thanks to my new friends, 
who found me plenty of pupils among the working- 
class children of the neighborhood. I taught them 
the simple elements, and to children of the more in- 
tellectual classes languages and music. My pay was In 
food, but food in the Bolshevist paradise Is worth 
much more than money, so I was completely satisfied. 
By this time my appearance was so changed that I 
lost all fear of the police or the Chekha. One day 
when I was slowly walking the long distance across 
the river to my favorite church, the resting place of 
Father John, a motor car stopped in my path and I 
recognized as its occupant the Chekha inquisitor Boze, 
the man who had several times been my brutal jailer. 
"Grazhdanka (Citizeness)," he addressed me, "please 
tell me where to find " he named a street and 


number whither he was bound, doubtless on some er- 
rand of terror. Giving him the direction, I moved 
on as fast as my crippled legs could carry me, but I 
need not have been afraid for he did not know me 
at all. 

So went the year 1920, my mother and I and the 
good priest's family often discussing the possibilities 
of escape from the increasing starvation, death, and 
terror which everywhere surrounded us. People did 
escape, we knew, but how were we to do it — two 
women, one old and the other lame? It seemed al- 
together impossible. Besides, we had almost nothing 
with which to buy our way out of the country. My 
only shoes were homemade affairs of carpet, and I was 
so careful of them that often when walking I took 
them off and carried them in my hands to preserve 
them. Another thing, beset with dangers as we were 
in Russia we were no longer hungry, because I had an 
increasing number of pupils, and each one meant a 
tiny portion of food and firewood for my mother, my 
friends, and myself. But here is a strange and a uni- 
versally human thing. Food and warmth do not bring 
content to prisoners, they create courage, and when 
one day in late October we received a letter from my 
sister, safe in a near-by country which I may not name, 
the flame of adventure blazed up in the soul of my 
brave little mother and in my own heart. My sister 
suggested the possibility of our getting out by one of 
the ways that persist in flourishing in spite of Bol- 
shevism and the Chekha, and she offered us, if we suc- 
ceeded in escaping, the shelter of her own home. I 
cannot reveal any detail of those secret ways of es- 


cape, because they still exist, and must not in any 
way be placed in jeopardy. Enough it is to say that 
Petrograd is separated from Finland by only a few 
versts of land, carefully guarded, and by a narrow 
arm of the Baltic Sea which cannot be quite as suc- 
cessfully guarded. In winter this water freezes, not 
as unsalted water freezes, smooth and thick, and safe 
for passage, but in rough and treacherous hummocks 
of mixed ice and snow, with unexpected gaps of half- 
frozen water opening here and there between the ice 
masses. Still, the icy Baltic does at times admit of 
sledge passage, and there are men who make a business 
of taking over — for a price far beyond what most 
Russians can afford — refugees who have friends wait- 
ing for them in Finland or in countries to the west 
and south. Sometimes Red soldiers have to be bribed, 
and often they sell out the people whose money they 
accept. Sometimes also the men who contract to take 
refugees over the ice betray their passengers to the 
Bolshevik guards. Any way you look at it, escape 
from Bolshevik Russia is about as perilous as going un- 
armed into a tiger's cage. Yet people dare it, and we 

It was about the first of December in our calendar, 
in the year 1920, when we received a second smuggled 
letter from my sister: "Be ready whenever we send 
for you." For that promised summons we waited in 
desperate suspense until two days after Christmas. 
Then to my mother's lodging came a fisherman and his 
little boy with the whispered news that we were to go 
with them on the day following. My mother found 
means of sending the news to our friend the priest, 


and he brought it to me. "Tomorrow at four o'clock 
you go abroad." 

The next day at the appointed hour my mother and 
I, two shivering creatures facing death, but ready, 
met at a small railway station leading along the Baltic 
shores. The fisherman's son was also at the station, 
but obeying instructions, we did not notice him but 
simply followed wherever he led. Our train journey 
was short, and at five o'clock, pitch dark in the Rus- 
sian winter, we alighted at a poor village, following 
the boy who carried on his back a bag of potatoes. 
Alas ! In the darkness and confusion we lost him, and 
stood in the icy cold like lost souls, not knowing where 
to turn. Suddenly out of the shadows a peasant woman 
approached us. "Are you looking for a boy with a 
bag of potatoes?" she said in a low voice, and to 
our frightened assent she murmured: "Follow me." 
We followed, although, for all we knew, it was to a 
Chekha prison. Anybody in Russia may be Chekha, 
the friend who invites you to dinner, the man who 
buys your last jewel, the woman who offers to guide 
you over an unknown road. You can trust no one, 
consequently, when you must, you trust anyone. We 
followed the peasant woman into a dim hut, and there 
we found two fishermen who assured us that they 
were ready that night to take us across the frozen 
Baltic to a village on the Finnish side. Their horses 
and sledges, they told us, were safely hidden, but they 
would be ready to take us and three other fugitives, 
a lady, a child, and a maid, as soon as we could safely 
venture to leave the village. As luck would have it 
there was a festival and a dance going on that night, 


and we had to sit in that stifling hut in complete silence 
until two o'clock. Also we had to pay for our shelter 
and escape one hundred thousand rubles, which my 
mother had secured by selling her last treasure, a pearl 

When the last peasant had gone to bed and silence 
wrapped the village, we stole out through the mud and 
the snow, and got into the rough sledge. Hardly had 
we struck the rough ice of the Baltic when the sledge 
overturned, waking the child who, silent before, now 
began to cry and to beg to go home. The little thing 
spoke only French and I can still hear him repeating 
over and over again in a high baby voice which he 
did not know imperiled the lives of all of us : "Maman, 
Maman, a la maison, a la maison." For six hours 
we drove thus, slowly and cautiously over the rotten 
ice, one of the men driving, and the other running 
ahead with a long pole testing the ice for a safe path- 
way. Often we stopped to listen for possible sentinels, 
and once in the neighborhood of Kronstadt we had 
such a fright that I wonder the men dared go farther. 
Plainly to our ears came the grinding of machinery, and 
we knew that where there was machinery there were 
men. We stopped long and listened, until our driver 
suddenly remembered that the noise was that of an ice 
breaker several miles out of our highway. By this time 
I was so stiff and drowsy with cold, so nearly frozen, 
in fact, that I hardly cared what happened to us. 
Seeing my wretched state, one of the men took off 
an extra pair of woolen socks he wore and slipped them 
on my feet. The unknown lady who accompanied us 
also spared me a warm wrap, and by rubbing and hold- 


ing me close to their bodies they kept me alive. At 
eight o'clock of a pale winter morning they lifted me 
out of the sledge and with the others I stood trembling 
on the snowy shores of Finland. 

"Now you are out of Sovdepia" (Soviet land), said 
the fishermen cheerfully, "but we are not safe yet, for 
the Finnish police may catch us and send us back." 
Hurriedly we climbed the hill to the cottage of one of 
the smugglers. Here we met his wife, who, gray with 
fear, came out to meet her husband after his night of 
peril on the ice. The woman gave us hot coffee, 
bread, and cheese, but she would net keep us long in her 
house. We knew that we must report as soon as pos- 
sible at the quarantine station, and we knew, besides, 
that the sorely tried Finnish authorities would not be 
any too glad to see us coming. Do not blame the 
Finns for this. Every Russian refugee is a burden on 
their slender resources, and too often a pretended 
refugee is merely a Bolshevik agent sent to stir up 
trouble among disaffected workmen. However, on 
this occasion the Finns received our wretched group 
with infinite kindness, and made us comfortable during 
the required period we spent in the quarantine station. 
Then we went to our separate destinations, all of us to 
poverty, obscurity, homesickness, to that sunless clime 
which waits the exile wherever he may go. In the 
country where my mother and I finally arrived we 
found my sister, happier than ourselves, because she 
left Russia before the great horror began, thus saving 
part of her fortune. My sister gave us food, clothing, 
a lodging. Except for her bounty we had lost every- 
thing we ever owned, home, friends, possessions, 


country, for Russians now have no country, no flag, 
no place in the wide world. The best any of us can 
hope for is an obscure corner in some foreign land 
where we can earn enough to buy our daily bread, and 
a quiet place in which to pray every day of our lives: 
"God save Russia." 

I am told, although I can hardly believe It, that in 
other lands, even in free America, there are beings so 
deluded that they wish to bring about revolution and 
Bolshevism. I do not wish for any of them the long 
nightmare of suffering that I, one of millions, have 
suffered under revolution and Bolshevism. I pray 
only that there may be revealed to them the fate of 
the betrayed who have died and are dying under the 
criminal administration of the Provisional Government 
and, later, of Lenine and his fanatical followers. If 
they can be made to know only in part what my poor, 
ravished country is today, they will forget their de- 
lusions and pray with the exiles: "God save Russia." 


The Truth Concerning the Russian Imperial Family 

Statement of Vladimir Michailovitch Roudneff, appointed by Minister 
of Justice Kerensky Special High Commissioner for Revision and 
Investigation of the actions of Ministers and other High Per- 
sonages of the Imperial Government. 

"I was acting as Procureur of the Court of Assizes of 
Ekaterinoslav when I received orders from Minister of Justice 
Kerensky to become a member of the High Commission of 
Inquiry charged with an examination of the acts and abuses of 
ministers and other high personages of the former Government. 
While working with this Commission in Petrograd I was espe- 
cially assigned to examination of sources of secret influences at 
Court which were known as Dark Forces. My work with the 
Commission lasted until August, 191 7, when I was forced to 
leave because the President, Mourvavieff, insisted upon my 
making reports of a plainly prejudicial character. 

"As an Attorney General {juge (T instruction) I had access to 
all documents, and the right to be present at the examination 
of all witnesses, with the view of establishing impartially the 
part played by persons accused by society and the public press of 
exerting influence on foreign and domestic politics. I was 
assigned to read all the papers and letters found in the Winter 
Palace, the palace at Tsarskoe Selo, and at Peterhof, especially 
the personal correspondence of the Emperor and Empress, cer- 
tain of the Grand Dukes, and also the correspondence seized 
in the course of examination of the house of Archbishop 
Varnava, also of Countess S. S. Ignatieff, Dr. BadmaefF, 
Voyeikoff, and Anna Viroubova, and also to the relations 



existing between the Imperial family and the German Imperial 
family. Being aware of the importance of my inquiry in 
throwing light on historical events preceding and following the 
Revolution, I made copies of all documents and letters, dossiers, 
and statements of witnesses. In leaving Petrograd I took with 
me all these copies, concealing them in my home in Ekaterino- 
slav, but it is probable that these documents were destroyed 
when the Bolsheviki raided my house. If by happy chance I 
find that they still exist I shall certainly publish them in full, 
without any comments of my own. 

"In the meantime I consider it my duty to write a short 
account of the principal persons who were accused of being 
Dark Forces. I must, however, warn the reader that as I write 
from memory some details may escape my mind. When I went 
to Petrograd to begin my work with the High Commission I 
admit that I was influenced by all the pamphlets and newspaper 
articles on the subject of the Rasputine influence, and other 
rumors and gossip, and I began my work under the domination 
of preconceived prejudices. But careful and impartial investi- 
gation soon forced me to the opinion that these rumors and 
newspaper accounts were based on slender foundations. 

"The most interesting person charged with exercising a 
malign influence on political affairs was Gregory Rasputine, 
therefore this person was the central figure of my investigations. 
The account of the surveillance under which he lived, up to the 
very day of his death, is of great importance. This surveillance 
was exercised by the ordinary as well as the secret police, special 
agents noting all his goings and comings, some of these agents 
being disguised as policemen or as servants. Everything con- 
cerning the movements of Rasputine was carefully recorded 
every day. If he left his house, even for an hour or two, the 
moment of his departure and his return was noted, and also 
every person he met on the road. 

"The secret agents kept strict account of all people he met 


and of all who visited him. In cases where the names of these 
persons were not known their full descriptions were taken. 
After having read all papers and examined many witnesses I 
reached the conclusion that Rasputine was a person more com- 
plex and less comprehensible than had been previously repre- 
sented. In studying his personality I naturally paid attention 
to the chronological order of circumstances which finally 
opened to the man the doors of the Tsar's palace, and I dis- 
covered that the first preliminary was his acquaintance with the 
well known, pious, and learned churchmen Bishops Theofan 
and Hermogen. I noted also that it was afterwards due to the 
influence of Rasputine that these two great pillars of the 
Orthodox Church fell into disfavor. He was the cause of the 
relegation of Hermogen to the Monastery of Saratoff, and of 
the disgrace (demotion) of Theofan, after these two arch- 
bishops, discovering Rasputine's low instincts, openly turned 
against him. All the evidence pointed to the conclusion that in 
the inner life of Rasputine, a simple peasant of the Government 
of Tobolsk, there occurred suddenly a complete change trans- 
forming him and turning him toward Christ. Only in this 
way can I explain to myself his intimacy with these two re- 
markable bishops. This hypothesis is moreover confirmed by 
Rasputine's storj' of his journey to the Holy Land. This book 
is marked by extreme naivete, simplicity, and sincerity. On the 
recommendation of the exalted churchmen mentioned Rasputin^ 
was received by the Grand Duchesses Anastasie Nicholaevna 
and Melitza Nicholaevna, and it was through them that he 
made the acquaintance of Mme. Viroubova, nee Tanieff, then 
maid of honor. He made a deep impression on this very reli- 
giously inclined woman, and gained at last an entry to the 
Imperial Palace. It was then that awoke in him his worst 
instincts, hitherto repressed, and it was then that he began 
adroitly to exploit the religious fervor possessed by very high 
personages. It must be admitted that he played his part with 


astonishing cleverness. Correspondence bearing on the subject 
and the testimony of various witnesses prove that Rasputine 
refused all subsidies, gratuities, and even honors which were 
freely offered him by their Majesties, indicating thus his in- 
tegrity, his disinterestedness, and his profound devotion to the 
Throne, insisting that he was an intercessor for the Imperial 
family before God's throne. He alleged that everyone envied 
him his position, that he was surrounded by intriguers and 
slanderers, and that therefore evil reports concerning him were 
unworthy of belief. The only favor he accepted was the rental 
of his lodgings, paid by the personal Chancellor of his Majesty. 
He also accepted presents made by the hands of the Imperial 
family, such as shirts, waist-bands, etc. 

"Rasputine had free entry to the apartments of the Emperor, 
saying prayers, addressing the Emperor and Empress with the 
familiar 'thou,' and greeting them in the Siberian peasant 
manner (with a kiss). It is known that he warned the Em- 
peror, 'My death shall be thine also,' and that at Court he was 
regarded as a man gifted with the power of forecasting events. 
His predictions were couched in mysterious phrases like those 
of the Pythons of antiquity. 

"Rasputine's income was derived from numerous persons 
who desired positions and money, and used Rasputine as their 
intermediary with the Emperor. Rasputine asked favors for 
his clients, promising, if these were granted, all kinds of bless- 
ings to the Imperial family and to Russia. 

"To this must be added that Rasputine possessed within him- 
self a strange power by which he was able to exercise hypnotic 
suggestion. I have been able to establish the fact that he cured 
by hypnotism the disease of St. Vitus Dance which afflicted the 
son of one of his friends, Simanovitch. The young man was a 
student in the College of Commerce, and his malady completely 
disappeared after two seances in which Rasputine plunged the 
patient into hypnotic slumbers. 


"Another case establishing the hypnotic power of Rasputine 
may be noted. During the winter of 19 14-15 he was called to 
the house of the superintendent of railways in Tsarskoe Selo 
where lay, entirely unconscious, Anna Alexandrovna Viroubova, 
who had been seriously injured in a railroad accident. She 
was suffering from broken legs and a fracture of the skull. 
Their Majesties were in the room when Rasputine arrived, and 
he, simply raising his arms, said to the unconscious woman : 
'Anushka, open your eyes,' which she instantly did, looking in- 
telligently around her. This naturally made a deep impression 
on everyone present, including their Majesties, and it served to 
increase the prestige of Rasputine. Although Rasputine could 
barely read and write, he was far from being an inferior person. 
He .had a keen and observant intellect, and a rare faculty of 
reading the character of any person with whom he came in 
contact. The rudeness and exaggerated simplicity of his bear- 
ing, which lent him the appearance of a common peasant, served 
to remind observers of his humble origin and his lack of culture. 

"As so much was bruited in the public press about the im- 
morality of Rasputine, the closest attention was given to this 
phase of his question. From the reports of the secret police it 
was proved that his love affairs consisted solely in night orgies 
with music-hall singers and an occasional petitioner. It is on 
record that when he was drunk he sometimes hinted of inti- 
macies in higher circles, especially in those circles through which 
he had risen to power, but of his relations with women of high 
society nothing was established, either by police records or by 
information acquired by the commission. In the papers of the 
Bishop Varnava was found a telegram from Rasputine as fol- 
lows: 'My dear, I cannot come, my silly women are shedding 
tears and won't let me go.' As for the accusation that in 
Siberia Rasputine was accustomed to bathe in company with 
women, and that he was affiliated with the 'Khlysty' sect, the 
Extraordinary' Commission referred these charges to Gramo- 


glassoff, professor in the Ecclesiastical Academy (of Moscow), 
who after examination of all the evidence, testified that among 
peasants of many parts of Siberia the common bath was a usual 
custom, and that he found no evidence in the writings or preach- 
ings of Rasputine of any affiliation with the 'Khlysty' doctrines. 

"Rasputine was a man of large heart. He kept open house, 
and his lodgings were always crowded with a curiously mixed 
company living at his expense. To acquire the aureole of a 
benefactor, to follow the precepts of the Gospels according to 
which the generous hand is always filled, Rasputine took the 
money offered by his petitioners, but he gave generously to the 
poor and to people of the lower classes who begged his assist- 
ance. Thus he built up a reputation of being at once a generous 
and a disinterested man. Besides these alms Rasputine spent 
large sums in restaurants, cafes, music halls, and in the streets, 
so that when he died he left practically nothing. The investi- 
gation disclosed an immense amount of evidence concerning the 
petitions carried by Rasputine to Court, but all these, as has 
been said, referred merely to applications for positions, favors, 
railway concessions, and the like. Notwithstanding his great 
influence at Court not a single indication of Rasputine's politi- 
cal activity was disclosed. 

"Many proofs of his influence were found in the papers of 
General Voyeikoff, Commandant of the Palace, as for example 
the following: 'My dear. Arrange this affair. Gregory.' These 
letters were annoted by Voyeikoff, with the names and ad- 
dresses of the petitioners, the nature of their demands, the 
results of their applications, and the date of the replies. Many 
letters of the same kind were found among the papers of Presi- 
dent of the Council of Ministers, Sturmer, and of other high 
personages. All the letters concerned themselves exclusively 
with favors and protection for the people in whom Rasputine 
interested himself. He had special names for various persons 
with whom he was in frequent contact. Sturmer was called 


'The Old Man,' Archbishop Varnava 'Butterfly,' the Emperor 
'Papa,' and the Empress 'Mama.' The nickname of Varnava, 
'Butterfly,' was found in a letter to Mme. Viroubova. 

"The inquir}' into the influence of Rasputine on the Imperial 
family was intensive, but it was definitely established that that 
influence had its source in the profound religious sentiments of 
their Majesties, joined to their conviction that Rasputine was a 
saint, and was the sole intermediary between God and the 
Emperor, as well as of all Russia. The Imperial family believed 
that they saw proofs of his sanctity in his psychic power over 
certain persons of the Court, such as bringing back to life and 
consciousness the desperately injured Mme. Viroubova, whose 
case has been described ; also in his undoubtedly benign influence 
on the health of the heir, and on a whole series of fulfilled 
forecasting of events. 

"It is evident that sly and unscrupulous people did every- 
thing in their power to profit by Rasputine's influence on the 
Imperial family, thus waking up in the man his worst instincts. 
This is particularly true of the former Minister of the Interior, 
A. N. Khvostof? and of Belezky, Director of the Police De- 
partment. To consolidate their position at Court they came to 
an understanding with Rasputine whereby they agreed to pay 
him, out of the private funds of the Police Department, the 
sum of three thousand rubles monthly, besides other sums, 
that he might require, provided he helped them to place candi- 
dates agreeable to them. Rasputine accepted these conditions, 
and for three months filled his engagements, but finding that 
the arrangement was not advantageous to himself, returned to 
his independent manner of work. KhvostofiF, fearing that 
Rasputine would betray him, began openly to oppose him. He 
knew that he stood well with the Imperial family, and he 
counted also on the cooperation of the Duma, of which he was 
a member, and in which Rasputine was cordially hated. This 
put Belezky in a difficult position, because he doubted Khvos- 


toff's power at Court, and he had no doubt at all concerning 
Rasputine's power. Belezky decided therefore to betray his 
chief, and range himself on the side of Rasputine. His object 
was, to use the words of Rasputine himself, to throw down 
the Khvostoff ministry. The struggle between these two offi- 
cials culminated in the famous plot against the life of Raspu- 
tine, which created such a sensation in the press during the 
year 1916. The plot was laid by Belezky in the following 
manner. An engineer named Heine, owner of several private 
gambling houses in Petrograd, was hired to go to Christiania 
to meet the unfrocked monk Illiador Troufanoff, a former 
friend of Rasputine. The result of this journey was a series 
of telegrams addressed to Heine and signed by Illiador covertly 
alluding to a conspiracy against the life of Rasputine. In one of 
these telegrams it was stated that the forty men engaged in 
the conspiracy were dissatisfied to wait longer, and it was nec- 
essary to send them immediately thirty thousand rubles. These 
telegrams, coming in war time from a neutral country, were 
delivered to the police, only after having been read being passed 
on to the person addressed. Finally, after receiving all the 
telegrams, Heine presented himself to Rasputine in the guise 
of a repentant sinner, giving him full details of the plot, in 
which he owned himself concerned, but which he vowed Khvos- 
toff to be the leading spirit. The result was that Rasputine 
took the story to the Imperial family, and the dismissal of 
Khvostoff quickly followed. It is an interesting fact that 
Heine's telegrams from Christiania mentioned a number of 
names of persons living in Tsaritzine, former friends of Illiador, 
who were supposed to be in Christiania busy with the details 
of the plot. The evidence given at the inquiry proved beyond 
doubt that the persons concerned had never left their homes. 
'Tersonally the official Khvostoff was highly esteemed by both 
the Emperor and the Empress, they believing him to be sincerely 
religious, and devoted to the interests of the Imperial family 


and to Russia, but the evidence shows that he was really de- 
voted only to his personal interests. He once invited the head 
of the Gendarmerie, General Komissaroff, to go with him in 
civilian dress, and to introduce Rasputine to the Metropolitan 
Pitirim. They were received by a novice who went to the 
Metropolitan's study to announce them. When the Metropoli- 
tan appeared Rasputine introduced General Komissaroff, and 
disagreeable as it was to see a gendarme officer in his house, his 
Eminence invited the men to follow him into his study. There 
they discovered Khvostoff sitting on a sofa. Seeing Rasputine 
Khvostoff laughed rather nervously, but continued his conver- 
sation with the Metropolitan, then, rising to take his departure, 
asked General Komissaroff to drive home with him. Komissa- 
roff found himself in an awkward position, and when Khvostoff 
suddenly asked him if he understood the affair he answered in 
the negative. 'Well,' said Khvostoff, 'it is now clear in what 
relation Pitirim stands with Rasputine. When you were an- 
nounced he was just telling me that he had nothing in common 
with Rasputine, and that the person who was waiting to see him 
was an eminent Georgian. 'Termit me," he said, "to leave you 
for a few minutes." Now we see who the "eminent Georgian" 
really was.' This was testified to by Komissaroff himself. 

"Of all the ministers Khvostoff was the closest to Rasputine. 
Rumors of the intimate relations between Stunner and Raspu- 
tine were found to be without foundation. There was between 
them, it is true, a friendship. Sturmer understood Rasputine's 
great influence, and did what he could to advance the interests 
of his clients. He sent fruit, wine, and delicacies to Rasputine, 
but there is no evidence that he allowed him to influence po- 
litical affairs. The relations between Rasputine and Proto- 
popoff, who, for some reason, Rasputine called 'Kalinine' were 
no more intimate, although Protopopoff liked Rasputine, and it 
is certain that Rasputine defended Protopopoff when the posi- 
tion of the latter was menaced. This was done usually in the 


absence of the Sovereigns, Rasputine addressing himself to the 
Empress, at the same time uttering predictions. 

"Protopopoff distinguished himself by an extraordinary lack 
of will power, representing at different times quite opposing 
organizations. He was even at one time elected vice-president 
of the Duma. Protopopoff has publicly been accused of initiat- 
ing and carrying out an attempt to put down the popular up- 
rising of the first days of the Revolution. He is accused of 
having placed machine guns on the roofs of houses to shoot down 
the armed insurgents. However, the juge d' instruction Jousvik- 
Kompaneitz, after having interrogated many witnesses, and 
examining all the machine guns found in the streets of Petro- 
grad in the first days of the Revolution, has testified that all 
the machine guns belonged to different regiments, and none, 
not even those found on the roofs of houses, to the police. 
Generally speaking, there were no machine guns on roofs, ex- 
cept those placed there at the beginning of the war as a defense 
against airplane attacks. It must be said that during the criti- 
cal days of February, 191 7, Protopopoff showed a complete 
incapacity, and from the legal point of view, his absolutely 
criminal weakness. Among his papers were found intimate and 
even affectionate letters from Rasputine, but not one letter 
contained anything more than recommendations in favor of his 
proteges. Nor in the papers of any other high personages were 
found letters of different tenor signed by Rasputine. Both press 
and public seem to have been persuaded that Rasputine was very 
intimate with two political adventurers, Dr. Badmaeff and 
Prince Andronnikoff, and that through him these men were 
able to exercise wide political influence. Evidence has estab- 
lished, however, that these rumors were without any founda- 
tion. The two adventurers were, in fact, nothing more than 
the hangers-on of Rasputine, glad to gather up the crumbs from 
his table, and falsely representing to their clients that they had 
influence over Rasputine, and through him influence at Court." 


(Here follows at some length the result of the High Com- 
mission's inquirj' into the activities of Dr. Badmaeff and Prince 
Andronnikoff, but as they have nothing whatever to do with 
this history they are omitted. A. V.) 

"Badmaeff was the physician of Minister Protopopoff, but the 
Imperial family had no confidence in his methods — any more 
than had Rasputine — and in an examination of the servants of 
the Imperial household, it was demonstrated clearly that the 
Thibetan doctor had never been called in his professional 
capacity to the apartments of the Emperor's children. 

"General Voyeikoff, Commandant of the Palace, I examined 
many times in the Fortress of Petropavlosk where he was 
imprisoned. He did not play a vtry powerful role at Court, 
but according to letters from his wife, daughter of Court 
Minister Fredericks, covering the years 1914-15, and found in 
his house, he was esteemed by the Imperial family as a man 
devoted to the throne, an impression which I, after several 
interviews with him, did not share. From letters of Voyeikoff 
to his wife it is plain that he was hostile to Rasputine. In cer- 
tain of the letters he calls Rasputine the evil genius of the 
Imperial family and of Russia, and he believed that his inti- 
macy at Court discredited the throne and gave strength to 
humors and opinions and slanderous stories by which the anti- 
Government party profited. Nevertheless he took full advan- 
tage of the influence of Rasputine. He had not the courage 
to reject his petitions, which is proved by the annotations in his 
handwriting on the letters of Rasputine." 

(High Commissioner Roudneff adds that, in his opinion, 
Voyeikoff thought badly of Rasputine, and that his wife hated 
the man, but that neither of them communicated their views 
to the Imperial family. A. V.) 

"Having heard a great deal of the exceptional influence at 
Court of Mme. Viroubova, and of her relations with Rasputine, 
and having read and believed what was said about her in 


society and the press, I must admit that when I went to examine 
her in the Fortress of Petropavlosk I was frankly prejudiced 
against her. This hostility remained with me up to the mo- 
ment of her entrance into the office of the Fortress under the 
escort of two soldiers. As she entered the room I was struck 
with the expression of her eyes, an expression of more than 
earthly gentleness and meekness. This first impression v/as 
confirmed in all my subsequent interviews with her. From the 
first conversation which I had with her I became convinced 
that, given her individuality and her character, she could never 
have had any influence on politics either foreign or domestic. 
I believe this in the first place because of the essentially femi- 
nine point of view shown by her on all political matters of which 
we talked, and in the second place because of her loquacit)' 
and her complete incapacity to keep secret even facts which 
might reflect on herself. I became convinced that to ask 
Mme. Viroubova to keep anything a secret was equivalent to 
proclaiming it from the housetops, because anything that she 
thought important she felt impelled to communicate, not only 
to friends but to possible foes. Noting these two characteris- 
tics of Mme. Viroubova, I asked myself two questions — why 
she stood in close relations with Rasputine, and what was the 
secret of her intimacy with the Imperial family. 

"I found the answer to the first question in conversations with 
the parents of Mme. Viroubova, M. Tanief?, chief of the pri- 
vate Chancellory of his Majesty, and his wife, nee Countess 
Tolstoy. From them I learned of an episode in the life of their 
daughter which, in my opinion, explained why Rasputine ob- 
tained later such an influence over the will of the young woman. 
At the age of thirteen Mme. Viroubova fell gravely ill of 
typhus, the illness being complicated with peritonitis, and her 
condition, according to the physicians, was desperate. Her 
parents called to her bedside the famous priest. Father John 
of Kronstadt. Following his prayers the illness took a favor- 


able turn, and the young girl was soon pronounced out of dan- 
ger. This made a deep impression on her mind, and thereafter 
strongly inclined her to a religious life. 

"Mme. Viroubova first met Rasputine in the house of the 
Grand Duchess Melitza Nicholaevna (wife of Grand Duke 
Peter), and that meeting was not a happy event. The Grand 
Duchess had prepared Mme. Viroubova for the meeting by 
conversations on the subject of religion, and had given her 
certain French books on occult subjects. Later the Grand 
Duchess invited Mme. Viroubova to her house, promising to 
introduce her to a great intercessor before God in favor of 
Russia, a man who possessed gifts of prophecy, and the faculty 
of curing the sick. This interview by Mme. Viroubova, then 
Mile. Tanieff, made a great impression on the young woman 
who was then on the eve of marriage with Lieutenant Virou- 
bova. Rasputine spoke only on religious subjects, and when the 
young girl asked him if he approved her marriage he answered 
allegorically saying that the pathway of life was strewn not only 
with roses but with thorns, and that man progressed towards 
perfection only through sufferings and trials. 

"The marriage of Mme. Viroubova was from the first un- 
happy. According to the testimony of Mme. Tanieff, the man 
was completely impotent, addicted to perverted practices and 
saddistic habits, causing her daughter the most frightful moral 
sufferings and physical disgust. Nevertheless, believing in the 
Biblical injunction 'Whom God hath joined let no man put 
asunder,* Mme. Viroubova for a time kept her sufferings a 
secret even from her parents, and only after she had been nearly 
killed by her husband did she reveal to them the tragedy of her 
marriage. The result was, of course, a divorce. The testimony 
of Mme. Tanieff concerning the moral character of her son-in- 
law was confirmed by a medical examination of Mme. Virou- 
bova, ordered by the Commission of Inquiry, and by which was 
established the virginity of the young woman. This examina- 


tion was held in May, 191 7. In consequence of her shocking 
marital experience the religious inclinations of Mme. Viroubova 
were increased and were developed into something approaching 
religious mania. She became the purest and most sincere ad- 
mirer of Rasputine, who, up to the last day of his life, she 
considered a holy man, and one completely disinterested from 
every worldly point of view. 

"In regard to the question of the intimacy of Mme. Virou- 
bova with the Imperial family, I concluded that it had its roots 
in the wholly different mentalities of the Empress and Mme. 
Viroubova, that attraction of opposites which so often seems 
necessary to complete a balance. The two women were entirely 
different, and yet they had many things in common. Both, for 
example, were devotedly fond of music, and as the Empress 
possessed an agreeable contralto voice and Mme. Viroubova a 
good soprano, they occupied many leisure hours singing duets. 

"Such were the conditions which produced in the minds of 
persons ignorant of the nature of the intimacy between the 
Empress and Mme. Viroubova, belief in the exceptional influ- 
ence of Mme. Viroubova on Court affairs. As has been said, 
Mme. Viroubova possessed no such influence, nor could she have 
possessed it. The Empress dominated the intelligence and the 
will of Mme. Viroubova, but the attachment between the two 
women was very strong. The religious instincts deeply rooted 
in their two natures explains the tragedy of their veneration of 
Rasputine. The relations between the Empress and Mme. 
Viroubova could be likened to those of a mother and daughter, 
nothing more. 

"My opinions regarding the moral qualities of Mme. Virou- 
bova, resulting from interviews with her in the Fortress of 
Petropavlosk and in the Winter Palace were entirely confirmed 
by the forgiving and Christian spirit displayed by her towards 
those who had caused her, in the course of her imprisonment, 
the most horrible suffering. Of the insults and tortures to 


which she was subjected in the Fortress I did not learn, in the 
first instance, from Mme. Viroubova herself, but from her 
mother. Only on direct examination did Mme. Viroubova 
confirm her mother's testimony, and even then she spoke calmly 
and with astonishing meekness, saying that her persecutors 
should not be blamed too severely because they did not realize 
what they were doing. These tortures of the prison guards, 
such as spitting in her face, dealing her blows on the head and 
body, accusing her of being the mistress of the Emperor and 
of Rasputine, tearing off her clothes and threatening to murder 
a sick woman who could walk only with the aid of crutches, 
caused the Commission of Inquiry to transfer the prisoner to a 
house formerly occupied by the Director of the Gendarmerie 
(House of Detention). The testimony of Mme. Viroubova 
presented a complete contrast to that of Prince Andronnikoff. 
Her statements were all candid and sincere, and their truth was 
subsequently established beyond doubt by documentary evidence. 
The only fault I found with Mme. Viroubova was her tendency 
to wordiness, and her amazing habit of skipping from one sub- 
ject to another, without regard to the fact that she might be 
hurting her own cause. Mme. Viroubova appears to have inter- 
ceded at Court for various persons, but her petitions were re- 
ceived with a certain distrust because of her known goodness 
and her simplicity of mind. 

"The character of the Empress Alexandra was shown clearly 
in her correspondence with the Emperor and with Mme. 
Viroubova. This correspondence, in French and English, is 
filled with sentiments of affection for her husband and children. 
The Empress occupied herself personally with the education of 
her children, and she often indicates in her letters that it is 
desirable not to spoil them or to give them habits of luxury. 
The correspondence reveals also the deep piety of the Empress. 
In her letters to her husband she often describes her emotions 
during religious services, and speaks of the peace and tranquillity 


of her soul after prayer. Hardly ever, in the course of this 
long correspondence, are any allusions made to politics. The 
letters concern intimate and family affairs only. In passages in 
which Rasputine is mentioned she speaks of him as 'that holy 
man,' and shows that she considers him one sent of God, a 
prophet, and a man who prays sincerely for the Imperial 
family. Through the whole correspondence, which covers a 
period of ten years, I found not one single letter written in 
German. According to the testimony of Court adherents I 
have proof that before the War German was never spoken at 
Court. Because of public rumors of the sympathy of the Em- 
press for Germany and of the existence in the Palace at Tsarskoe 
Selo of private wires to Berlin, I made a careful examination 
of the apartments of the Imperial family, and I found no indi- 
cations at all of communications between the Imperial household 
of Russia and the Imperial household of Germany. I also 
examined the rumors concerning the beneficence of the Empress 
towards the German wounded and prisoners of War, and I 
found that the Empress showed compassion for the sufferings of 
Germans and Russians alike, without distinction, desiring to 
fulfill the injunction of Christ who said that whoever visited 
the sick and suffering also visited Himself. 

"For these reasons, and above all on account of the frail 
health of the Empress, who suffered from a disease of the 
heart, the Imperial family led a very retired life, which favored 
the development, especially in the Empress, of extreme piety. 
Inspired by her devotion the Empress introduced into certain 
churches attached to the Court a regime of monastic services, 
and followed with delight, in spite of her ill health, up to the 
very end, masses which lasted for hours on end. This same 
excessive religious zeal was the foundation for her admiration 
for Gregory Rasputine, who, possessing an extraordinary power 
of suggestion, exercised an undeniably salutary effect on the 
invalid Tsarevitch. Because of her extreme piety the Empress 


was in no proper state of mind to understand the real source 
of the amazing influence of Rasputine on the health of the 
Heir, and she believed the explanation to be due, not at all to 
hypnotism, but to the celestial gifts which Rasputine owed to 
the sanctity of his life. 

"A year and a half before the Revolution of 191 7, the for- 
mer monk, Illiador Troufanoff, sent his wife from Christiania 
to Petrograd with the proposal that the Imperial family pur- 
chase the manuscript of his book, which later appeared under 
the title of 'The Holy Devil,' in which the relations of the 
Imperial family with Rasputine were scandalously represented. 
The Police Department interested itself in the matter, and 
at its own imminent risk entered into negotiations with the 
wife of Illiador concerning the purchase of the manuscript for 
which Illiador demanded, I am assured, sixty thousand rubles. 
The affair was finally submitted to the Empress Alexandra who 
repudiated with indignation the vile proposition of Illiador, 
saying that 'white could never be made black, and that an inno- 
cent person could never be assoiled.' 

"In terminating this inquiry I believe it necessary to repeat 
that Bishops Theofan and Hermogen contributed importantly 
to the introduction of Rasputine at Court. It was because of 
their recommendations that the Empress, in the beginning, re- 
ceived Rasputine cordially and confidently. Her sentiments 
towards him were fortified only by the reasons indicated in the 
course of this document." 


Copy of certificate of acquittal of Anna Viroubova issued 
by the High Commission of Inquiry, August, 191 7. 

Ministry of Justice 

The High Commission of In- 
quiry into the acts and abuses 
of Ministers and other High 
Personages of the Former 

25th of August, 191 7. 

No. 3285 


Winter Palace 

Tel. 1-38-20 and 186. 


This testimonial delivered to 
Anna Alexandrovna Viroubova 
at the end of the investigation 
of the High Commission of In- 
quiry, certifies that she was 
found not guilty and that she 
will not again be called to 
judgment. This statement is 
given under the signature and 
seal of the President of the 
High Commission. 
(Signed) N. Mourvavieff. 




MAY 4 1992 


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